Walid Shoebat’s “Rescue Christians” Org Claims to be Protecting Families in High-Profile Blasphemy Cases

Last month, I wrote a blog entry about an organisation called “Rescue Christians”. According to the organisation’s blurb:

…Our work will involve providing safe houses, food and medical care for persecuted Christian families with direct one and one support, with no administrative costs or waste. Our work will also involve the gaining of visas for these families to restart their lives in Western countries so they can rebuild their lives. Full details of the program detailed on www.rescuechristians.org. We are already helping two families with many more on a waiting list for assistance…

That was written by Keith Davies, who is better-known as Walid Shoebat’s handler, and the Rescue Christians website heavily promotes Shoebat and his anti-Islam screeds.

Rescue Christians also uses the name “The Raoul Wallenberg Project”, and it goes on to explain:

The Raoul Wallenberg Project is working with people on the ground who are well connected in the Christian community. They have reached out to us for our support to help alleviate their suffering, and in certain situations, help with their escape. For their protection we cannot expose their names publicly. In the future, large donors who are concerned about the transparency of funding, we can provide the names and details privately.

…. We are working behind the scenes with members of Congress, in particular the staff of Congressman Allen West, who has kindly offered his help on Capital Hill… We’ve assembled a group who have been involved in running a charity, and are aware of working with activists.

I expressed some concerns about this at the time: the names of the Christians they are supposedly helping are either confidential or they are not – leaking them to “large donors” is an amateurish way to demonstrate “transparency” and would anyway show very little about how efficiently or competently the organisation is being run. Why is there no formal board structure, or any trustees? Why haven’t Shoebat and Davies established a 501(c)(3), with all the checks and balances which would come with that? Who is going to look after these “safe houses”? How will their safety be assessed? What protocols are in place should emergencies occur?

Rescue Christians claims to be working on some high-profile cases:

Less than two weeks ago on March 15th, Qamar David, 56 years old, was found dead in his prison cell… His wife and children are also been pursued by extremists – they are in hiding.

On September 2009, Fanish Robert was arrested, accused of throwing a Quran. Two days later he was found dead in police custody… His families have also received threats – they are in hiding.

…These are just the initial cases that our organization has been asked to support. These case histories come from our very reputable contacts in Pakistan.

Because of our background of having already rescued one family, the contacts are in place and we are ready to continue with our next rescue mission.

In May, Davies published an update on Rescue Christians’ work, introducing an unnamed “contact in Pakistan”:

…Currently there are about nine families which are associated with Rescue Christians.org (RC). We are trying to provide them Safe Houses,food, Visa’s and Transport. RC has observed that the victims of the blasphemy laws are usually killed in police custody, sometimes even in the court room as well as in Judicial custody.

Rashid Emmanuel , Sajid Emmanuel, Qamar David , Fanish Robert were all were murdered in police custody or in court rooms. Their families are till today hiding to save themselves from the Religious Zealots, which are trying to find them and kill them.

Qamar David’s family are regularly been threatened by the Islamic extremists, therefore they are kept in hiding by RC. Same in the Case of Rashid Emmanuel and Sajid Emmanuel and Fanish Robert…

Rescue Christians is a new organisation. It is remarkable that it is already playing a central role in the aftermath of four especially high-profile cases, particularly given that three of the deaths occurred a while ago: Fanish Robert died in police custody in September 2009 in circumstances that the the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan described as “judicial murder”, while Rashid and Sajid Emmanuel were gunned down in court premises in July 2010 while on trial for blasphemy. Qamar David died in suspicious circumstances in prison in March this year, having been convicted in February 2010.

Of course, if Rescue Christians is “working with people on the ground”, it could be the case that activists who were already helping various families chose to become associated with Rescue Christians when the organisation was formed last month. But if so, how did this come about? Why choose to partner with someone like Shoebat, an absurd figure who purports to believe that Barack Obama is a secret Muslim working for al-Qaeda? Why not turn to an organisation such as Open Doors or Release International, which have a track-record in this area, rather than a man known only for anti-Muslim punditry?

And why is there no apparent liaison with groups such as Christian Solidarity Worldwide or International Christian Concern, which have both worked on the specific cases mentioned by Rescue Christians? All of these cases have received international attention, yet the involvement of Rescue Christians has apparently gone completely unnoticed.

It should also be possible to report more information about the threats against the families without compromising security. There are a few details in other sources: in the case of Robert, it was reported that following his death his family had left the village of Jethikey “for security reasons”, but that they had returned two weeks later. Regarding the Emmanuel brothers, some details about their family were provided by an Australian evangelist named Steve Cook: in an an email update sent to a blog just before their murders, he wrote that “Rashid and Sajid’s family is in hiding and moving from place to place,” and after their funeral that

Rashid and Sajid’s family are safe and there is astrong police presence in the Christian areas to prevent riots or further violence. However, they are concerned about what will happen once things settle down and the police presence is reduced or removed.

The killer was sentenced to death in April – a report about this here does not mention the brothers’ family’s current circumstances.

In the case of David, a family member quoted in this report “refused to give his name”, but there is no indication that the family is in hiding. The claim does not appear in a report by ASSIST Ministries, either, despite references to the family:

Andrew Johnston, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) Advocacy Director, said, “We are shocked to hear this sad news and our thoughts and prayers are with Qamar David’s wife and children. The last nine years of this family’s life have been utterly ravaged by the consequences of a vindictive blasphemy accusation that would have very likely been dismissed by the High Court in time. It is yet another tragic example of lives needlessly destroyed by the blasphemy laws in Pakistan and the inability of the government, court system and prisons to prevent this. Given the threats known to be faced by blasphemy prisoners, it is imperative that the true cause of his death be investigated properly and independently.”

…Joseph Francis, National Director of the Centre for Legal Aid, Assistance and Settlement (CLAAS), in Pakistan, told the ASSIST News Service, “Hopefully we will get the full details about his unexpected passing away and will up-date accordingly with the cause of Qamar’s death as the family is in contact with CLAAS.”

Of course, it’s possible that the continuing plight of the men’s families has simply been overlooked, but that seems rather strange given the wide interest in the situation.