Francois Murad death: Video claiming to be beheading of Catholic priest posted online
A video clip that is believed to have captured the beheading of Catholic priest Father Francois Murad has emerged.
The horrific clip of a man being beheaded by jihadists in northern Syria has been posted online.
Murad's death was confirmed by the Vatican on Sunday, but circumstances surrounding his death have not been disclosed.
The brutal public execution in the clip took place on June 23 in front of a group of extremists after he was accused by Jabhat al-Nusra forces of working with Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. The clip shows men chanting "Allahu Akbar", which means "God is Great" as the execution is carried out.
Murad had been in the region to set up a monastery in Gassanieh.
The man in the video is seen with his hands bound before he is beheaded with a kitchen knife.
According to Catholic Online, Murad is believed to have been murdered by jihadists after they believed he was working with Assad. But this has not been confirmed by the Vatican, which issued a statement on the death of Father Murad.
"On Sunday, June 23 the Syrian priest François Murad was killed in Gassanieh, in northern Syria, in the convent of the Custody of the Holy Land where he had taken refuge," the statement read. "This is confirmed by a statement of the Custos of the Holy Land sent to Fides Agency. The circumstances of the death are not fully understood. According to local sources, the monastery where Fr. Murad was staying was attacked by militants linked to the jihadi group Jabhat al-Nusra. Father François, 49, had taken the first steps in the religious life with the Franciscan Friars of the Custody of the Holy Land, and with them he continued to share close bonds of spiritual friendship. After being ordained a priest he had started the construction of a coenobitic monastery dedicated to St. Simon Stylites in the village of Gassanieh. After the start of the Civil War, the monastery of St. Simon had been bombed and Fr. Murad had moved to the convent of the Custody for safety reasons and to give support to the remaining few, along with another religious and nuns of the Rosary."
According to Vatican Radio, Murad was attacked when he tried to resist militants during a raid by the jihadists on the Franciscan monastery of St Anthony of Padua in Gassanieh, a predominantly Christian village in the district in the province of Idlib. The area had been under attack by Islamists rebels in the past few weeks.
"Unfortunately Syria has now become a battleground not only between Syrian forces, but also between Arab countries and the international community," said Fr. Pierbattista Pizzaballa of the Custos of the Holy Land. "And those paying the price are the poor, the young and the Christians. That the international community must put a stop to all this."
However, some reports state that Murad was shot to death and that he is not the vicim that is beheaded in the video.