ROME – On Sunday, June 3, 2007, Bayan Adam Balah really wanted to avoid going to another Mass. She, together with her husband, Subdeacon Waheed Hanna Isho’a had already fulfilled their Sunday obligations, and “female intuition” – or survival mode – told her if they left the town of Qaraqosh towards neighboring Mosul with Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, something bad would happen.
She was right.
Aziz Ganni, Hanna Isho’a, and two other subdeacons, Bassman Yousef and Gassan Issam Bidawid, were murdered by four gunmen, self-identified as Ansar Al-suna, an Islamic fundamentalist group that would later become the Islamic State group.
“We were stopped by four gunmen with masked black suits and Kalashnikov rifles,” Balah said, recalling the day.
“Two of them pointed the guns at Father Ragheed’s car, and the other two pointed their guns at our car. They shouted at Father Ragheed to get out of the car. Father Ragheed asked them who they were, they replied that they were Ansar Al-suna. I heard them clearly.”