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Afraid to go home: Iraqi Christians still fear Mosul

Tens of thousands of displaced Christians have returned to their cities and villages in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain, but many still refuse to return to Mosul–a city where unspeakable events took place against Christians and others when ISIS took over.

Before ISIS moved in, 30,000 Christians lived in Iraq’s second largest city. Today, maybe no more than several hundred have returned.

“People are afraid and it’s understandable that they are afraid, but they are afraid because the (jihadi) networks are still there on the ground—especially in Mosul,” explained investigative journalist and author Ken Timmerman.

He understands all too well what many Iraqi Christians are up against.

Timmerman has made many mission and reporting trips to Iraq in recent years. His experiences have motivated him to write a new book, ISIS Begins.

He says the tragedy Iraq’s Christians are still experiencing is remarkable and it can only be understood by visiting there, to witness and feel firsthand what’s happening to them.

“I wanted to give readers a ground truth so they could get a better understanding of what it means to be a persecuted Christian, to be chased by jihadi Muslim groups.”

In his book, the central character is an Iraqi Christian interpreter who works for US Special Forces.

“He’s chased by a jihadi cell leader, he tries to take his family to Jordan to get US asylum as the US has promised,” Timmerman explained. “But of course they prefer to bring Muslims into the United States and not Christians. This is a sad fact of the State Department bureaucracy.”

The main character returns to Iraq and ends up on a mission trip with some US pastors. The group is attacked as they hand out aid to displaced people in the Nineveh Plain.

Timmerman said while his book is a novel, it is based on events that have actually occurred in Iraq.

He said Christians living in Iraq’s Nineveh Plain face different problems than their Mosul counterparts. That’s because they have no security; they have tried for many years to establish an Assyrian Christian police force.

“The Kurds have been blocking it unfortunately. That’s what they need, they need security on the ground. But in Mosul they really need to root out these jihadi groups that are underground that are still there,” Timmerman said. “That’s a real underlying problem. People are just afraid. They are afraid that they will again be targeted.”