WARNING: There are some images of purported atrocities against children at the end of this article. They are extremely graphic. Please exercise extreme caution.
The images of atrocities by members of the Islamic State jihadist group, also known as ISIS, against their soldier and civilian enemies in Iraq and Syria have been have circulating for some time. There have been reports, many documented in images and even videos, of ISIS crucifixions, executions, mass burials and worse.
But now a flood of new reports and photographs reveal such horrors being inflicted on children.
One such report came from the Anglican Communion News Service, which said the 5-year-old son of a founder of Baghdad’s Anglican church was “cut in half during an attack by the Islamic State.”
The report cited an emotional Canon Andrew White, chaplain of St George’s Anglican Church in Baghdad.
“I’m almost in tears because I’ve just had somebody in my room whose little child was cut in half,” he said. “I baptized his child in my church in Baghdad. This little boy, they named him after me – he was called Andrew.”
The report said it happened in the Christian village of Qaraqosh after Kurdish forces left and Islamic State fighters arrived.
A Catholic.org report quoted a source, Mark Arabo, a Chaldean-American businessman, confirming the beheading of children by Islamic State fighters, who then “put their heads on a stick and have them in the park.”
“The world hasn’t seen this kind of atrocity in generations,” he told CNN.
The report, which included images, said the terrorists “who have invaded Mosul and other ancient Christian communities in Syria and Iraq have made music videos of themselves murdering civilians and captured soldiers.”
“They are literally enjoying the act of killing and the fear and suffering experienced by others. This sadism may be the purest manifestation of evil witnessed since the Rape of Nanking during WWII.”
Jeff King, president of International Christian Concern, which has staff members traveling in Iraq, has evaluated many of the reports and finds them “completely consistent with who these guys are.”
“They’re absolute barbarians. We’re at a loss of words to describe who these guys are.”
He cautioned, nevertheless, that news agencies and readers always should be a little skeptical of random images posted online, because there’s likely an element of propaganda in such disputes.
Some of the recent images appear that they may have been staged, he said. But others appear genuine.
The Anglican report quoted Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby.
“The horrific events in Iraq rightly call our attention and sorrow yet again. Christians and other religious minorities are being killed and face terrible suffering,” he said.
“What we are seeing in Iraq violates brutally people’s right to freedom of religion and belief, as set out under Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It is extremely important that aid efforts are supported and that those who have been displaced are able to find safety. I believe that, like France, the United Kingdom’s doors should be open to refugees, as they have been throughout history.”
The aid group Barnabas Aid, which provides assistance to the persecuted church worldwide, reported recently that “hundreds of thousands” of Iraqi Christians are facing a “humanitarian crisis” while fleeing from the terror of Islamic State fighters.
“At least 200,000 Christians are now thought to be fleeing towards the Iraqi Kurdistan region. Some of the displaced had already fled to the Nineveh plain from Mosul, which was taken by ISIS. … A number of towns have reportedly been completely emptied of their Christian populations,” the report said.
The Catholic.org report, which included multiple images, said Islamic State terrorists “have begun their promised killing of Christians in Mosul, and they have started with the children.”
“Several images have emerged of Christian children beheaded by ISIS, merely for being Christian,” the report said.
The report said the Muslim fighters crucified victims “because to them crucifixion is especially humiliating due to its Christian implications.”
The images show children lying in rocky fields where they died, a woman whose throat was cut and the decapitated bodies of children.
A Gospel Coalition “Factchecker” is warning that one of the images reportedly goes back to 2013 when it was claimed she was a Muslim Syrian girl named Fatima Meghlaj who was decapitated when Syrian forces shelled her home.
“ISIS is an organization that has committed heinous acts of violence and violated the human rights of many of our fellow believers,” the organization said. “But we must not partake in the spreading of lies, even if it is against our enemies.”
The report continued: “While it is possible that children are being beheaded by ISIS in Iraq, there is currently no credible evidence to support that claim. We should pray this report turn[s] out to be just rumor and that whatever other crimes are being committed, that God is sparing the children of Iraq from ‘systematic beheading.'”
Bishop Julian Dobbs of Barnabas Aid told WND he’s heard multiple accounts of “atrocities against all Christians, adult and children.”
“This is a disaster of almost unparalleled proportions for Christians,” he said.
The Catholic.org report said the images and videos are made and distributed “to intimidate others.” One showed blood gushing from a woman whose throat was slit. Another was of a “distraught father in Syria” holding the body of his decapitated daughter, who was executed because she was of a Christian family.