Abu Muhammad al-Jolani, leader of al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra (The Nusra Front, AQ-JAN), has allegedly issued the following directives to his fighters:
- Never break any cross of infringe on any Christian holy symbol.
- Never abuse Christians or harm any of them unless someone attacks you and declares war, and so will be treated as an enemy.
- Never harm any of the nuns or people of the churches, nor infringe any Christian property whatever it could be, even the smallest of them.
Alleged directives of AQ-JAN's leader al-Jolani on the treatment of Christians
Unfortunately, missing from these directives on the treatment of Christians is any reference to kidnapping Christians. This renders the orders of al-Jolani meaningless and empty, as the kidnapping of non-combatants such as the nuns of Maaloula is in fact i) an infringement upon Christian holy symbols; ii) an abuse of Christians; and iii) harmful to Christians. This, by extension, is harmful and abusive to the Syrian people and their cause.
The abduction of the Maaloula nuns might be seen as a bargaining card by their kidnappers, but this is a very shortsighted move, as the damage inflicted upon the Syrian Revolution is strategic. Taking the nuns as hostages is not only immoral, but also deeply offensive to the Christian 1/3 of the inhabitants of this planet.
Thus, by keeping the nuns in captivity, Jabhat al-Nusra is in fact playing into Bashar al-Assad's hand and validating his claim that the Islamists in Syria are merely armed terrorists.
For the sake of Syria and the Syrian Revolution, Jabhat al-Nusra must get its act together and disassociate itself from al-Qaeda, renounce terrorism, and strictly abide by the modern international rules of war and the Geneva Convention. This means combatants do not kidnap nuns and keep them in captivity!
Free the nuns.