It's no secret that ISIS is targeting Christians in the Middle East as they seek to build a caliphate. Last night, Glenn was joined by Matthew VanDyke and Johnnie Moore, both of whom are working to protect Christians who live in the Middle East and are coming under attack by radical Islamists.
Glenn: I want to introduce you to Johnnie Moore. He’s been on the program before. He’s a friend and just a really solid guy. He’s the author of Defying ISIS: Preserving Christianity in the Place of Its Birth and in Your Own Backyard . I want you to get this book. This book was just sped up by HarperCollins, right?
Johnnie: Yeah, that’s right.
Glenn: Just sped up because the crisis is getting so bad in the Middle East, and as it says here on the back, “Has a Christian Holocaust begun?” The answer is yes, it has. I was just talking to one of the head guys at the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles. I’ve never had a Jewish person say this to me ever before and especially from Simon Wiesenthal. He said, “Glenn, please, will you do me a favor?” I said, “Sure.” He said, “Will you stop talking about the persecution of Jews?” I was stunned, and I said, “Anti-Semitism is through the roof.” He said, “The Holocaust is happening now.” I don’t think he used the word Holocaust.
He said the real persecution right now far more than the Jews is the Christians. We’ve got to stand behind the Christians right now. This is what your book talks about.
Johnnie: Yeah, I mean, Glenn, this is a once-in-a-thousand-year crisis we’re witnessing in the Middle East. We have Christian communities that have thrived for nearly 2,000 years. Jesus himself gave the gospel to Thomas. Thomas takes the gospel to Iraq. I mean, this is the place of the birth of Christianity, and we’re watching the full-scale elimination, Nazi-style tactics.
Glenn: Literally Nazi-style tactics.
Johnnie: Literally Nazi-style tactics, I mean, incomprehensible things, and literally most people that are watching this think this came from nowhere this summer. This has been going on since 2003. They’re not starting something, they’re finishing it.
Glenn: Okay, I want to bring somebody else into the conversation. Matthew VanDyke is a guy I cannot wait to meet in person. He is the founder of Sons of Liberty International. Now, this is a nonprofit organization that uses donations to provide resources to local militias in their own defense against ISIS. Let me start with you, Matthew, on this because I have several questions for you, but let me start here. What is it that you have seen, and why is it you’re doing this? I can’t hear. Do we have his audio? Go ahead. Go ahead, Matthew. I think everybody else can hear you.
Matthew: Christianity is under threat of extinction in Iraq. There’s been a large diaspora of the Christian population, and this is really all or nothing for them. They’re either going to be able to provide for their own defense and convince their people to stay or we’re going to see the end of Christianity in Iraq. My motivation for this is Christianity in Iraq as well as ISIS killing two of my friends, James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and me looking for a way to make a contribution and fight against ISIS.
Glenn: So, what is it you’re doing?
Matthew: I formed a company called Sons of Liberty International. We’re not technically a nonprofit organization for various reasons, but we operate on nonprofit principles. We’re revenue neutral, and we rely entirely on public support for our funding. So, people go to the website, sonsoflibertyinternational.com, and play an active role in the war on terrorism. They can give and have a tangible effect on the ground in this fight. The situation with Christians is desperate. We’re in a hurry to help them. We just finished training a battalion of them to defend their lands against ISIS, and the work continues. Really the only thing holding us back now is limited funding.
Glenn: Okay, so Johnnie, put the address of Sons of Liberty down so if anybody is interested…there it is. If you want to donate, you can donate there. Johnnie, tell me, what are the things that are happening that you talk about in the book that people would be surprised to know?
Johnnie: Well, the front page of the ISIS magazine in October was St. Peter’s Square right here in the Vatican, and ISIS superimposed a flag atop the Egyptian obelisk at St. Peter’s Square. They put the ISIS flag there. You know, this isn’t like some accidental thing. This is intentional. Every single time Baghdadi has spoken, every single time, everything he has written, he says 100% of the time that they’re marching all the way to Rome.
What’s really interesting about Baghdadi is he took charge of this organization, ISIS, which was then called the Islamic State of Iraq, in May 2010. His first church bombing was in October 31, 2010. Almost as quickly as he took the reins, he went after these Christian populations. In that particular situation, I mean, he, you know, has these guards dress as security guards. They show up inside this Catholic church in Baghdad, Our Lady of Salvation. They killed 50 people, and they assaulted another 70. There’s so much blood that the blood was splashed on the walls and on the ceiling of the cathedral.
That was in 2010. Since that time, every single church in Iraq and every single church in Syria has built bomb walls around their churches to protect themselves. They’re like sitting ducks. I mean, this is what’s so important about what Sons of Liberty is doing. About 14 days ago, ISIS came in a 40-vehicle convoy, clearly, clearly an ISIS convoy, 40 vehicles. They attacked ten Christian villages along the south of the Khabur River in Syria. They kidnapped 300 Christians.
Now, tell me, if the United States government and the European governments are very serious as they say they are about getting rid of ISIS, how did a 40-car convoy of ISIS heading towards ten unarmed Christian villages not get blown to smithereens? It all happened with the whole world watching, and, you know, there’s Christian after Christian after Christian, pastor after pastor beheaded. Their wives and children have been put on slave markets, I mean, everything you could imagine.
I have a price list, a price list…so hard to even think about. It says Yazidi Christian girls, one to nine years old, $170. They kidnap these Christian families. They say in their literature they want to rape their wives and enslave their daughters. They behead the men. They’ve done it over and over and over again. There were 1.5 million Christians in Iraq in 2003. At best there are 150,000 left, and these are the Christians that have carried the gospel for 2,000 years.
Glenn: How many of them, do either of you know, Matthew, how many do we suspect have been killed?
Matthew: The number is not really known. The number of Christians even left in Iraq is estimated at 400,000, but that number is really not known either. You know, there’s so many missing and disappeared that they’re still counting, but it’s in the thousands.
Glenn: You know, I’ve heard about crucifixions. Is that true? Are they crucifying children? Are they crucifying people? Either of you know?
Johnnie: They’re overt in their literature that they are to do it, and there are pictures of them doing it and, by the way, tons of stories of them beheading children. I mean, I have one story in Defying ISIS, I, you know, literally have gotten so connected on the ground, I get emails and text messages from pastors and Christians in the region. This is the 21st century. There’s no barrier. They can communicate with you,
Johnnie: And one of these says ISIS came from village to village, and they stopped asking the parents if they were Christians because they thought it would be worse if they asked the children. So, this one particular village, this pastor sends me a text message, and he says, “ISIS is coming to my village. They’ve stopped asking the parents if they’re Christians. They’ve started asking the children. Every single one of the kids has said that they are, and every single one of the kids has been killed in cold blood. Please pray for me.” I don’t know what to say to these parents, and I don’t even know how to call myself a Christian, seeing the faith of these children—every atrocity you can imagine.
Glenn: Matthew, I have seen video of some of the survivors that have lost their house and lost everything and get across the border. They’re in these camps, I think it was in Jordan. I saw interviews with these children, and I could not believe the faith of these children. I couldn’t believe how they spoke of forgiving ISIS. It’s a totally different world. What do you see on the ground when you are there and you’re talking to these people?
Matthew: You know, they’re really distressed. You know, the resilience of them is remarkable. The courage of them is. The morale of them, the morale of the men we’re training, they’re highly motivated to defend their lands. Despite everything they’ve been through and the dangers and the horrific things that ISIS has done, they still want to stand up and defend Christianity in Iraq. The tragedy is a lot of the people that you see who cross the border are never coming back, and this is why Christianity is under threat in Iraq. A lot of the people who are refugees will not return to their homes. They feel like Iraq is never going to be a safe place for them, and that’s why the Christians are trying to organize for their self-defense to demonstrate to people that they can stay so that Christianity isn’t lost in the country. You know, it’s really an uphill battle.
Glenn: Let me ask both of you, and Matthew, I’ll start with you and then to Johnnie, and then we’ll take a break. When you’re talking to the people over there, what is it they say about us and our inaction or our blindness or silence?
Matthew: They’re very frustrated, and they don’t understand why all the talk is about supporting Sunni tribes and supporting the Peshmerga but not supporting them in their aspirations to defend themselves.
Johnnie: They told me they feel forgotten. They sent a message to Christians in the West that said, “You would have no Christianity in the West if it wasn’t for Christians in the East. Your church history is our church history, and what happened? Did you cut off the satellites? How did you know ISIS wasn’t coming into Iraq’s second-largest city, Mosul? How did you know ISIS wasn’t coming in with their pickup trucks with their bolted guns in the back of it with the whole world watching? How did you not know that a city that has had tens of thousands of Christians for centuries would have zero left over?”
Glenn: But we’re not talking about…I mean, yesterday, yesterday, we were talking about ISIS, and behind me my staff had picked…one of the things that was rolling the tape behind me was after the execution. It was on the beach in Libya, and it was the sea blood red, just blood water. I stopped watching the show last night, and I rewound it and looked at it. I thought, “How is that not everywhere? How are people not seeing those things?” But in that same video, the banner up above said, “A warning to the people of the cross.” Our own media is complicit. Our own media is not telling the story.
Johnnie: Yeah, and they’re not doing it because it’s Christian, right? It’s religious, but what they don’t understand is that to ISIS, if you live in this country, you’re Christian. We’re a crusader nation in their mind, and so this threat against Christians in the Middle East is very much a threat against anyone in the United States of America because they all put us in this category. You rest assured if they had the opportunity to do it here, they would do it here.
Glenn: They will.
Johnnie: In fact, they are trying to do it here. In fact, they have tried to do it here. We had a beheading in the United States of America. We had police officers attacked on the subway in Brooklyn. We’re losing track. I mean, today we have an Air Force vet that gets arrested because he’s trying to get to Syria. Last night in Washington, D.C., we had a man charge into the cockpit of an airplane yelling “jihad.” The list goes on. We had an attempted suicide bombing in Washington, D.C., just the guy was a part of an FBI sting and got caught. This is happening, and you can rest assured if ISIS has their chance, they will take the Vatican. They will take over the Vatican. They’ll turn the Sistine Chapel into a prison. They’ll behead all the priests and put their heads on the Bernini statues all across there, and they’ll come here next. That’s why we ought to care about it. If our heart doesn’t pull us to care for these women and children, then at least our self-interest ought to do so, but we’re blind.
Glenn: Okay, so when we come back, I want to, Matthew, get specific on what you’re doing and how you’re training and specifically from both of you what we can do, because people feel helpless—this is too big of a problem. What can we do? When we come back.