It was late 2013. At this time ISIS was a full blown entity and started controlling different territories. A large aid convoy with approximately 60 individuals came across the Turkish-Syrian border from the United Kingdom. The convoy comprised of all Muslims (mostly of Indo-Pak origin), except one. He was a white Christian who stood out in the crowd of the wheat colored Asian companions who surrounded him. This man shall be named Murdock (not his real name due to the sensitivity of the case). At that time one of ISIS’s main strongholds in northern Syria was a town called Dana.
The convoy cleared the Turkish side of the border and completed the 30 minute drive to Dana. Approximately 2 hours after arrival, ISIS soldiers arrived and detained a large number of those who were on the aid convoy. A few hours later they were all released, except Murdock. Initially it was said by ISIS brass that he was being held for a few additional hours to answer some questions and then he will be released. Hours turned to days and Murdock didn’t appear. Those who were on the convoy were angry and confused as to why their companion was not released. Then what they had feared had come to light, they were told that Murdock was now their prisoner. They asked why, as he had only been in the country for a few hours and most of that was inside a vehicle traveling to Dana. They said that he was suspected to be a spy. The Muslims on the convoy asked for proof as they regarded this as a totally ridiculous claim. ISIS cited that they couldn’t believe that a white christian would want to come to Syria at this time except that he was a spy. The ISIS commander then showed them Murdoch’s passport and said that this was the proof. “There is a secret chip inside. This is so that the intelligence service can continue tracking him”. One of the other Muslims from the convoy said: “All of the passports from the UK are like that!”, showing him his UK passport. The other Muslims on the convoy told them that this man had given up Christmas with his family to come to help save the people that ISIS “said” they were trying to save in the Syrian people. The commander remained quiet and said that it wasn’t up to him and the decision regarding Murdoch would have to be made by the Ameer in charge who would be in the next day.
A day or so passed with no word and they inquired again. ISIS said that he was to remain their prisoner and they would ransom him for something. “Why?” they were asked. They said: “We will trade him for someone in the UK prison system. The other Muslims told him this was not Islamically correct and they had no charge against him. One of the aid workers told them that the people rely on these convoys and actions like these would create problems for their efforts in helping the Syrian people. The ISIS commander replied: “We don’t need convoys, we have Allaah”. Religious jurists from other groups came to intercede on Murdoch’s behalf. Even Al Qaidah affiliate Jabha Anusra sent a representative.
I was contacted to see if I could inquire and convince ISIS to release Murdock as my travels afforded me a chance to know more than a few ISIS members who rose to positions of authority. A few days later ISIS positions came under attack by the group Jaysh Mujaahideen. Murdock was taken from his prison in Dana never to be heard from again.
Making it Public
While speaking to convoy officials I suggested to make the abduction public. I suggested that Murdoch’s family should make a public appeal to Abu Bakr Baghdadi himself to release Murdoch as he only came to help the Syrian people and nothing more. However, convoy officials mentioned that British authorities thought it would be best to not make the issue public as they felt it would complicate matters. To this day Murdoch has not been heard from.
Why is Murdoch’s case important? Just like Abu Rayyan it shows a systemic disregard for others both Muslims and non Muslims from a leadership down standpoint. It has been advertised to the people that those who oppose the “Islamic State” do so because they don’t want Islam. ISIS says that the other groups are people of treachery, agents of the west, and those who have left Islam. Is it really so simple? The purpose of this series of articles is not to get people to like or not like the Islamic State militia, it is so they have enough information to make an informed decision.
If those who support the Islamic State militia are serious about creating a just Islamic state let them petition and pressure Abu Bakr Baghdadi to release Murdoch or (return his body to his family), compensate him for violating his sanctity, vow to never commit such acts in the future and produce those commanders who abducted him to stand before an independent Islamic judiciary for disciplinary actions.