Saturday, September 16, 2006

Episcopal priest in Syria recounts experience of U.S. embassy attack

September 16th, 2006 posted by kendall at 2:11 pm

The Rev. Bob Blackwell and wife Kay, appointed missionaries of the Episcopal Church who live in Damascus, Syria, were at their home on September 12 when Syrian guards foiled an attempt by suspected Al Qaeda-linked militants to blow up the U.S. embassy.

The guards exchanged fire outside the compound’s walls with gunmen who tried to storm in with automatic weapons and hand grenades.

No Americans were hurt and the embassy was not damaged in the midmorning attack, according to an Associated Press report.

The Blackwells serve the English-speaking congregation of All Saints Episcopal Church. The only English-speaking Protestant congregation in Syria, All Saints is a part of the Episcopal Diocese in Jerusalem and the Middle East.

Blackwell sent the following account of the attack and life in Damascus to the Episcopal Church Center on September 13:

Living in the embassy section of Damascus, we thought we were safe. There are security guards in front of every building and security cameras monitoring the street. The Chinese and Iraqi embassies are directly across the street from our house. The U.S. Embassy is a half a block away at the main intersection. There are two elementary schools on either side of our four-story apartment building. Nobody would ever try an attack in this area, we were sure.

I found out how strict security was the first month we were in Damascus. I walked out on our front steps and took a picture of the American flag flying over the embassy. It was a beautiful sight for someone who had never lived overseas before. Before I could turn to go back in my door, there was an armed security guard asking for my camera. The picture had to be erased. Our neighborhood is safe and secure, and we are thankful for that.

During the riots that occurred around the Danish Embassy because of the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, one of our guards warned me one day, as I started out for a walk, I had better stay in that day. The guards always watch out for us. They courteously direct people to our home and office, if they are looking for the “American priest.”

Read it all.


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