IRAQ: Thirteenth anniversary of martyrdom of gunned down Chaldean priest and deacons in Mosul

MOSUL, Iraq – June 3rd, 2007, in one of the neighborhoods of Mosul, priest Fr Ragheed Ganni and three of his (sub)deacons of the Chaldean Church were attacked and gunned down by terrorists. The four victims of this most heinous crime were martyred on the spot.

Fr Priest Ragheed Ganni was born in Mosul in 1972. He obtained a BA in Civil Engineering from the University of Mosul. In 2001 he was ordained a priest at the hands of the late Patriarch Raphael BiDawid of the Chaldean Church of Babylon. After completing his postgraduate studies and obtaining a master’s degree in church theology, he was appointed in 2003 priest to the Church of the Holy Spirit in Mosul.

The (sub)deacons accompanying the priest on the day of the incident were “samasha”, “deacon” in Syriac, Waheed Hanna Esho (Aqra, 1966), Basman Youssef al-Youssef (Mosul, 1982) and Ghassan ‘Issam BiDawid (Mosul, 1984).

Their murder was one of many in a deliberate campaign to eliminate Iraq of its Syriac Christians and expel Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians from their ancient homelands Iraq (and Syria). A campaign which started after the 2003 toppling of dictator Saddam Hussein. Their murder was the beginning of a bloody trail of several more heinous murders of clerics, kidnappings and church bombings.

There were two incidents which impacted the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian component’s presence in Iraq very much.

In 2010, six suicide jihadists linked to al-Qaeda besieged the Syriac Catholic Church of Sayidat al-Nejat, Our Lady of Salvation, and killed tens of innocent worshipers, priests and bystanders. Baghdad before 2003 had an estimated four to five hundred thousand Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians. Today the number has dwindled to a couple of tens of thousands. And that number keeps going down.

In 2014 – 2017, ISIS ran a reign of terror in the Syriac Nineveh Plains capturing, killing or expelling more than hundred and fifty thousand of Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians. Only half of them have returned.