The wife of imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini reported Thursday that her husband has received death threats from members of the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).
Abedini has been held captive in Iran since September 2012 on proselytising charges. His wife, Nagmeh, said that Muslim extremists are incarcerated with him.
"He [told] his mother that there's been ISIS prisoners — Iranian citizens who had joined ISIS and the government had arrested them," Naghmeh told The Blaze.
She described different sections of the ward - a political section, the murder section, and another section[that holds Al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants.
Although Abedini and the militants are not housed in the same section of Rajai Shahr prison, he has received death threats while in the prison yard and other common areas. Nagmeh said his notoriety as a Muslim-to-Christian convert and an American make him a target.
"He's the only Christian, but also Christian convert," she said. "He's the only American there in that prison. They all know about him.
"It's been pretty intense in the prison, because of these radical ISIS militants wanting his life.
"For him, he's their number one target. [He's] someone who was Muslim and converted to Christianity."
The American Center for Law and Justice revealed that terrorist organisation Al-Qaeda has also threatened Abedini's life. The pastor has had to hide in his cell to avoid being attacked, Nagmeh said.
Abedini, who became a Christian in 2000, maintains that he travelled to his native country to help build a state-run orphanage. He has reportedly been beaten by inmates and guards while incarcerated, and was temporarily transferred to a hospital after suffering internal injuries from the assaults. He was sentenced to eight years in prison in January 2013.
Last week, the couple's children – Rebekka, 8, and Jacob, 6 – made videos asking President Barack Obama and Iranian leaders to release their father. Nagmeh said she tries to protect them from the worldwide media interest in the case.
"I try not to have them watch the news or anything. It's just another level of stress to know there dad is in prison. I try not to get them involved in a lot of the updates," she said. "It's been getting harder, more emotional for them. They're crying more."
The reports of death threats have made Abedini's situation even more dire.
"This is urgent now," his wife said.
The Be Heard Project hosts a petition calling for Pastor Abedini's release, and has received over 285,000 signatures. The Project is also calling for a worldwide prayer vigil on September 26, 2014 – the two-year anniversary of Abedini's arrest. For more information, visit BeHeardProject.com.