A new hope appears in the murky story of Father Paolo Dall’Oglio, the Italian Jesuit who founded of the monastery of Mar Musa to Nebek, to the north of Damascus, and who was kidnapped by the ISIS militia men on July 29, 2013 near Raqqa. The course of time has weakened the possibility of liberation of the religious man, considering also the bloody ferocity with which the Caliphate has treated its prisoners so far. But according to an indirect testimony collected by the London Arabic-language newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, the priest was seen “alive at the end of August, in a prison to the west of Raqqa”.
These words belong to Rami Abdelrahman, the president of the Syrian Observatory for human rights. Thus, the rumors about Dall’Oglio’s alleged death, which had been circulating last summer, were belied. The testimony was given by two deserters of the self-styled Islamic State “in possession of much information about the violations” committed by al Baghdadi’s men in the Middle-East country. Yet, these words are not reflected at the moment. Ecclesiastical sources, in fact, have told the same newspaper that they did not receive any confirmation to this regard. “All we know, is what we have learned from the social media, according to which, Father Paul was executed in prison”, they said.
According to the expert in Syrian minorities, Sulayman Yousef, the latest rumors about the Jesuit “are not new, but no one has been able to provide proofs, hence they remain merely stories. Worthy of note, added Yousef to Al-Sharq al-Awsat is that in relation to Father Paolo, as well as to the other two priests who had been allegedly abducted by ISIS – that is, the two bishops of Aleppo, Youhanna Ibrahim and Bulos Yaziji al-Yazgi – “no videos were spread to prove they are still alive; likewise, no political negotiations were started nor a ransom was asked for their release”. Yousef stressed that “absence of political requests or ransoms makes us believe that those priests were murdered”, because ISIS “negotiated, for instance, the release of the Assyrian hostages” and just a few days ago “executed three of them and renewed its request for a 12-million-dollars ransom for the release of the remaining 181” Christians who had been kidnapped during the occupation of the villages in Khabour river basin several months ago. But as long as we do not have any certainties, it is worthwhile to hope… And search.