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A resounding silence is the reaction of those supporting the U.S. arming of Syrian rebels after the murder of a priest by rebels.
No word from President Obama or the State Department, and no word from lawmakers who back the administration’s policy of arming the rebels.
Two weeks ago, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., issued a statement urging the arming of Syrian rebels after U.S. officials claimed the Assad regime had used chemical weapons.
“U.S. credibility is on the line,” they wrote.
Now, there are no comments from either senator and no responses to requests for a statement from WND on the murder of 49-year-old Franciscan Father Francois Mura by Syrian rebels.
To be sure, the circumstances of the killing are murky but not the fact the priest was murdered by rebels.
Catholic Online originally reported the Vatican had confirmed Father Mura had been beheaded and provided a video. It turns out, the Vatican had confirmed the killing of Father Mura on June 23 but said the circumstances of his death were not fully understood.
Sources tell the London Telegraph the priest “died when he was shot inside his church.” The video may be of an earlier beheading.
The Custody of the Holy Land issued a press release that said: “Islamists attacked the monastery, ransacking it and destroying everything. When Father Francois tried to resist, defending the nuns, rebels shot him.”
The attack happened in the resort town of Ghassaniyeh, which is under the control of the jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra. The Telegraph reports a kidnapped Italian journalist heard Jabhat al-Nusra rebels refer to Father Francois as “a spy.”
While it was still believed that the murdered priest had been beheaded, WND reached out to leading Democrats and Republicans and asked whether they supported the administration’s arming of rebels who would behead a priest.
Not one Democrat responded, including Senate Intelligence Committee members Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., John Rockefeller, D-W.V., Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., Mark Udall, D-Colo.; Senate Armed Service Committee members Sens. Carl Levin, D-Mich., Clair McCaskill, D-Mo., Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Senate Foreign Relations Committee members Robert Menendez, D-N.J., Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Tom Udall, D-N.M, as well as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, a former U.S. Army captain, told WND that if the U.S. had acted earlier in Syria, the situation might be different.
“But now there is a tyrant on one side and al-Qaida backed rebels on the other, which is a no-win situation,” he said. “Neither our troops nor funding nor weapons should be wedged into the middle of a no-win situation.”
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted: “Prayers for Father Francois Murad. A grim reminder of why we should not give arms to these people.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann’s office reissued a statement originally made last week that read, “Giving weapons to the Syrian opposition means, in all likelihood, that the United States will be arming and aiding extremist groups who seek to defeat us and our way of life.
“To make the American taxpayer pay to send arms to our enemies is madness. Rather than unilateral foreign policy decision-making from the White House, there needs to be careful debate by Congress, as is our constitutional responsibility, and a clear strategy that is in line with America’s national security interests before any involvement is considered.”
The caution expressed in those statements is reflected in an assessment of the situation in Syria by WND sources.
WND foreign policy analyst F. Michael Maloof reports in the latest G2 Bulletin that “the first shipments of U.S. weapons consisting of small arms and ammunition could be in the hands of Syrian rebels within the next week or so.”
He cautions that “it will be a challenge for CIA to insure that the proper groups obtain and keep the weapons.”
Maloof cites a report from the intelligence group Stratfor that “weapons supplied to non-jihadist groups in the past” often end up in “the hands of extremist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra.”
“Once weapons arrive in Syria,” the report said, “it is extremely difficult for outside actors to maintain control over their subsequent distribution. There are several measures that can be taken to limit their destruction, but whether through outside seizure, donation or trade, some of these weapons are sure to wind up in extremist hands.”