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U.S. Officials Finally Call ISIS / Daesh Horrors What They Are

By Alan Sears posted on:
October 17, 2017

In the stunning aftermath of World War II, as Americans discovered, at Dachau and Auschwitz-Birkenau and other death camps, the full breadth of Nazi atrocities, they invoked a term, "genocide" for war crimes that went beyond even widespread violence and killings. Genocide marked the determination of one group to systematically exterminate another - for reasons national, ethnical, racial or religious.

It would be hard to find a more appropriate term for what is happening to Christians and other religious minorities right now in the Middle East, where, in the space of a few years, the number of Christians in Syria has dropped from over two million to less than one million; in Iraq, the number has plunged from 1.4 million to less than 260,000.

The Yazidis in the region of Kurdistan have been almost entirely wiped out. The atrocities include assassinations of church leaders, torture, mass murders, kidnapping, sexual enslavement and systematic rape of Christian and Yazidi girls and women, and the destruction of churches, monasteries, and cemeteries.

"The evidence for a declaration of genocide is overwhelming," says ADF International Executive Director Doug Napier.

Over the last few weeks, ADF International attorneys have successfully presented that evidence at the European Parliament (where the resolution passed with a near-unanimous vote), at the Council of Europe, and at a meeting of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, Switzerland, where our ministry hosted a side event to discuss the genocide issue.

We also authored an extensive analysis of the issue as part of a special Knights of Columbus report to Secretary of State John Kerry explaining the brutal, harrowing reality of what's happening.

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives unanimously - unanimously - passed its own genocide resolution, and Congress gave President Obama and the State Department a March 17 deadline to follow suit. On March 17, Secretary of State John Kerry said that the United States recognizes the atrocities perpetrated by ISIS/Daesh against Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims as genocide.

It's a crucial first step in stopping the atrocities against Christians and other religious minorities in Syria and Iraq and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

You might reasonably ask, how? How does a statement from one government on the other side of the world do anything to help suffering Christians in the depths of the Middle East?

"As a permanent member of the UN Security Council, the United States has an influential role to play in supporting a referral to the International Criminal Court to condemn and prosecute the perpetrators," Napier says. "Once it is recognized that genocide is happening, the 147 countries who are party to the UN Genocide Convention, including the U.S., have an obligation to enact legislation that will allow the punishment of those responsible, and bring the killing of innocent people to an end."

It's a little like a judge issuing a warrant. Without the warrant, law enforcement officers have nothing to enforce; with it, they have grounds for going after the criminals. What form the "going after" will take - and how aggressively U.S. and world officials will act on their decision - remains to be seen. (Learn more on the ongoing genocide in the Middle East and how to end it at

We pray for swift, decisive action. We thank God for prompting this clear response from U.S. officials. May He continue to bless the efforts of our ADF International attorneys to intervene on behalf of His suffering people around the world - and may He grant those being targeted in the Middle East a special measure of His grace for the days to come.

Alan Sears

Alan Sears


Alan Sears served as founder of Alliance Defending Freedom, building on his experience as longtime leader of the organization to strengthen alliances, forge new relationships, and develop ADF resources.

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