Thursday, September 5, 2013
Carmelite Nun Says Gas Attacks Were Faked: Would-be US Allies are Muslim Jihadists
Edit: this article from Haeretz is hardly defender of Christians in Syria, but it does put a light on their plight. Of course, she seems to have definitively crossed the line from contemplative to active life in her approach to what is a terrible emergency:
Why a Carmelite nun believes the chemical attack in Damascus was faked. By Gideon Levy | Sep. 1, 2013 | 8:25 AM | 29 Sister Agnes-Mariam de la Croix in Jerusalem this week: Chemical attacks were faked. Photo by Alex Levac
Sister Agnes-Mariam de la Croix feared that the United States would attackSyria on Saturday night. She expected the attack to be massive and would bring disaster to Syria and the entire region. According to Sister Agnes-Mariam, there are today 150,000 well-trained jihadist fighters from 80 countries in Syria, with arms they have received from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, and even from the United States. She says some of them are in a drugged state, induced by Captagon pills.
The nun lives in Syria and is the abbess, or mother superior, of the Monastery of St. James the Mutilated. She argues that these jihadi fighters control 60 percent of the populated areas of Syria. She claims that Islamic-Syrian rebel group Jabhat al-Nusra, which the United States has designated a terrorist group, is responsible for the acts of mass murder, rape and looting that have been committed in Syria. She also claims the Chechen fighters are exceptionally cruel and that, among the foreign fighters, there are a fairly large number of released prisoners and citizens of western countries. In her opinion, most of Syria’s citizens support the regime of President Bashar Assad because they fear a takeover of the country by Islamic extremists.
She calls on the world not to attack Syria, and to stop the flow of foreign fighters into its territory and the supply of arms they are receiving. When she journeys through Syria today, she feels as if she is in Afghanistan or Somalia. An American attack on Syria will hurt its army and open the door to a complete seizure of the country by the global jihad movement, she firmly believes. “If this regime is toppled,” she says, “it will be worse than Iraq. It will have consequences for Lebanon, Israel and Jordan, and it’s not a situation that will promote security.”
She also believes the pictures of the victims of last month’s alleged chemical attack in east Damascus are fabrications.
I met Sister Agnes-Mariam this week in a convent in Jerusalem’s hills, not far from Abu Ghosh. She is visiting Israel for a few days and next week will return to Syria, where she has been living for the past 19 years. Her life story is as surprising as her statements about the situation there.
She was born Fadia al-Laham, 61 years ago in Jounieh, Lebanon (her parents had fled Nazareth in 1948). When she was 15 her father died, and, as she herself admits, over the next few years she became a hippy and flower child who used drugs and drifted between Nepal and India. On her palm, concealed by her nun’s habit, she still has a few tattoos from India – a memento of that time in her life. She says she loves to listen to The Doors, The Rolling Stones and Santana. Her Indian experiences led her to embrace a cloistered life and, for 22 years, she lived in utter solitude in a Carmelite monastery in Lebanon’s highland region.
Sister Agnes-Mariam moved to Syria 19 years ago and, together with two other nuns, rebuilt the ruins of a monastery on the main road between Damascus and Homs, not far from the village of Qara. She became mother superior of the Monastery of St. James the Mutilated. In addition to the nuns of the convent, there are 20 Sunni refuges who have sought asylum from the horrors of the war.
She was forced to leave the monastery in June 2012, after the threats on her life increased because she was suspected of being an agent of the Assad regime. Her monastery is situated between the area controlled by the Free Syrian Army and the area controlled by the “foreign legions.”
Currently she lives in Damascus and is an international peace activist trying to warn the world of the dangers of a jihadist takeover of her adopted country. She is fighting what she considers a pack of lies, trying to counter the propaganda and disinformation in the Arab and international media, and documenting the atrocities of the war for the organization she has established. She arrived this week to visit relatives in Nazareth and to participate in an interfaith conference in Israel.