In the latest display of ISIS's barbarity, jihadists tortured and brutally murdered 12 Christians, including the 12-year-old son of a Syrian ministry team leader, for refusing to renounce their faith in Jesus and embrace Islam. The attack, which only recently came to light, occurred in an unnamed town outside of Aleppo, Syria on Aug. 28.
"In front of the team leader and relatives in the crowd, the Islamic extremists cut off the fingertips of the boy and severely beat him, telling his father they would stop the torture only if he, the father, returned to Islam," humanitarian group Christian Aid Mission revealed, reports The Gospel Herald. "When the team leader refused, relatives said, the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers. The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion."
They were killed for refusing to return to Islam after embracing Christianity, as were the other eight aid workers, including two women, according to Christian Aid. The eight were taken to a separate site in the village and asked if they would return to Islam. However, after they refused to renounce Christ, the women, ages 29 and 33, were raped before the crowd summoned to watch, and then all eight were beheaded.
They prayed as they knelt before the Islamic State militants, according to the ministry leader Christian Aid assists, who spoke with relatives and villagers while visiting the site.
"Villagers said some were praying in the name of Jesus, others said some were praying the Lord's Prayer, and others said some of them lifted their heads to commend their spirits to Jesus," the ministry director told Christian Aid. "One of the women looked up and seemed to be almost smiling as she said, 'Jesus!'"
In a manner reflective of Christ's crucifixion, the bodies of those killed were then hung on crosses for display.
The twelve martyrs are among thousands of Christians who have been ransomed, tortured, beheaded and killed over the past year by the Islamic State, a hardline Muslim group determined to wipe Christianity off the Middle Eastern map.
Patrick Sookhdeo, founder of Barnabas Fund, a charity that seeks to provide hope and relief to the persecuted church, told the Daily Express that “were are dealing with a group which makes Nazism pale in comparison.”
Since the civil war in Syria began in 2011 the Christian population has dropped by roughly two-thirds. In Iraq, Christianity is practically nonexistent, falling from around 1.5 million in 2003 to under 200,000 now.
"Crucifying these people is sending a message and they are using forms of killing which they believe have been sanctioned by Sharia law," Sookhdeo added. "For them what they are doing is perfectly normal and they don't see a problem with it. It is that religious justification which is so appalling."