January 2017: Christian man Elias was bound to a cross by Daesh (ISIS) forces in Raqqa, northern Syria.
He escaped when a bomb forced his captors to flee. When Aid to the Church in Need visited Elias in Syria, he said Daesh seized him for failing to keep up the jizya Islamic payments imposed on Christians in Raqqa. Elias said his income ceased after a bomb injury prevented him from working as a car mechanic.
Angered by his inability to pay, Daesh threw his Virgin Mary statues in the bin. When Elias protested, the Daesh forces hit him on the head. He was jailed for defending himself and was tied hand and foot to a cross in a solitary cell. He was fed mouldy bread for several days before being told his throat would be slit.
A bomb blast caused his captors to flee and Elias was reunited with his wife, Samar. Rescuing their Virgin Mary statues, the couple hitched a lift to Aleppo where they were cared for by aid coordinator Sister Annie Demerjian and her volunteers. Names have been changed to protect Elias and Samar’s missing teenage children – Rima, 18, and Youhanna, 17 – held by Daesh.