BAGHDAD – On the evening of October 31, 2010, suicide jihadists from Al-Qaida affiliate Islamic State in Iraq entered the Syriac Catholic Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral. Several hundred Christian Syriac faithful were present inside the Our Lady of Deliverance Cathedral to celebrate Sunday evening mass. The Yemeni and Egyptian suicide jihadists had come to kill and earn their place in the afterlife. The siege left dozens of faithful and two Syriac priests dead. Seven members of the security forces were also killed later that evening when security forces stormed the cathedral to free the hostages. It caused the jihadists to detonate their bomb vests and sow injury, death, and destruction. Days later Islamic jihadists attacked and bombed Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian homes and neighborhoods across Baghdad.
There had been attacks and bombings of churches, including the Syriac Catholic Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral in 2004, before, but the October 31, suicide attack on the Sayidat al-Nejat Cathedral was the most brutal and deadly attack on Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians since the fall of the Ba’ath regime. It awakened the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people to the reality in Iraq. Many of the still sizable Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian community of a couple of hundred thousand in Baghdad, decided to move up north to the Nineveh Plain and the Kurdish Region in Iraq. Many others choose to leave their violent ancient homeland of Iraq and seek safety in the West.
They were the “lucky” ones. In the years that followed, the terrorist Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would commit much worse crimes. It caused the displaced of tens and tens of thousands of Chaldeans-Syriacs-Assyrians when it took Mosul and the Nineveh Plain, many of whom are still living in IDP-camps or have emigrated to the West. ISIS destroyed, killed, kidnapped, enslaved, and committed genocide against Yazidis and Chaldeans-Syrians-Assyrians.
I want to extend my prayers and condolences to the Chaldean Assyrian Community this 10th anniversary of Our Lady of Deliverance church massacre in Baghdad. The right to worship is fundamental, and as Americans we should be proud that people from around the world find a home here.
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) October 31, 2020
The history of the Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people in Iraq over the last two decades is one of displacement and bloodshed. The Chaldean-Syriac-Assyrian people have been uprooted from their cities, villages, farmlands, and Mesopotamian heartlands. This land of fertile rivers and civilization was their original homeland for thousands of years… but that could soon become history.