I was shocked Friday night. My wife and I had just gotten home from our company Christmas party. While I don’t usually watch “20/20,” I clicked on the channel and to my surprise I was surprised.
It was about an “American husband and wife team [that] helped more than 100 Iraqi Christian refugees escape ISIS terror threats in their homeland and flee to Europe. Joseph and Michele Assad, former U.S. counter-terrorism officers, helped arrange for 25 families, 149 refugees in all including 62 children, to board a privately-chartered plane in the Kurdistan region of Iraq on Dec. 10, and land in Kosice, Slovakia, where they will be granted asylum within a month.”
It’s an inspiring story, especially coming from “ABC News’ “20/20” that “followed the refugees throughout their journey, from a church providing them shelter in Iraq to starting a new life in Slovakia.”
One of the most interesting parts of the process of getting the Iraqi Christians out of the country because of the approaching ISIS forces was the vetting process.
Joseph and Michele Assad as former U.S. counter-terrorism officers knew how to interrogate the refugees in order to screen for potential terrorists. Many more refugees were left behind, many probably because they could not pass muster.
A lot of the credit goes to Glenn Beck as you’ll read below:
“Tens of thousands Iraqi Christians fled their homes in Qaraqosh in the wake of ISIS attacks. Many ended up in refugee camps, carrying little but their most prized possessions. About 560 refugees ended up at the Mar Elia Chaldean Catholic Church in Erbil, Iraq.
“Contracted by the Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom, the Assads have spent the past four months forging a close partnership with Father Douglas Bazi at Mar Elia.
“‘We are rescuing people that are at their most vulnerable, and Christians happen to be part of this group that is the most vulnerable,’ Joseph Assad said.
“‘Muslims have other Muslim nations that they can turn to. They can go to other Arab countries. They can resettle there. Christians are having a much more difficult time resettling in some of these Arab countries.’
“Glenn Beck’s charity, Mercury One’s Nazarene Fund, raised more than $12 million for the evacuation and resettlement efforts. The Assads were managing the risky plan of getting the refugees out of Iraq and finding a country that would grant them asylum so they can start their lives over.”
The “20/20” episode was very positive, and I don’t want to take away from it. Glenn Beck made some comments after seeing the show and added to the story.
“‘For ABC to do a positive story on this in the first place was a Red Sea sized miracle as it is,’ Beck said.
But he said “that he was ‘horrified’ that the news special would encourage people to donate through the United Nations which he said was the ‘worst way’ to help.”
Beck went on to say that he “was greatly disappointed that Johnnie Moore,” who he believes is a modern day Bonhoeffer, “was marginalized. He is the tireless voice in America and full partner with Father Douglas.”
Here’s a short trailer.