ISIS captive survived ‘because you all prayed for me’

Fr Tom Uzhunnalil SDB (Melbourne Catholic)

Salesian priest and former ISIS captive Fr Tom Uzhunnalil shared his powerful testimony of survival this week during a visit to Melbourne. Source: Melbourne Catholic.

Fr Uzhunnalil was kidnapped by terrorists in Yemen on March 4, 2016, and spent 18 months in captivity. He had been serving as a priest in Yemen from 2010, assisting Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity Sisters who were taking care of the elderly and sickly.

“I think I’m here because you have all prayed for me,” Fr Uzhunnalil told the crowd at the Fatima Centre in Murrumbeena on Monday.

Recalling his movements on the morning of the attack, he remembers having finished his prayers in the small chapel by 8.30am to the sound of gunshots.

“As I stepped out of the small gate of the Sisters’ compound, a man with an automatic weapon was running towards me and caught hold of my hand,” he said.

The Indian priest saw several sisters being forcibly taken, followed by the sound of gunshots once again. “I could see them from about one hundred to a hundred and twenty feet away, being shot,” he said. “All I could say was, Lord, have Mercy on the Sisters.”

Fr Uzhunnalil was then taken to the terrorist’s car. “I thought it was my turn to be shot. The man asked if I were a Muslim. I told him no, I’m a Christian.” The priests then recalled the man opening the trunk of his car and asking the priest to climb in. While in the boot of the car, Fr Uzhunnalil remembers feeling a metal object which he thought was the tabernacle and he thought to himself, “Jesus is here with me”.

Blindfolded, he was taken to an unknown location where he was imprisoned. During his time in captivity, Fr Uzhunnalil was shifted six times to different locations. “The last place I stayed was for about a year or more,” he said. He said his time was spent in prayer, including Mass.

Fr Uzhunnalil was released on 12 September, 2017. He said he survived physically and mentally unharmed.

He continues his work with Don Bosco, assisting abandoned children and youth of Bangalore and Kerala in India. Visit to support this charity.


Former ISIS captive Fr Tom Uzhunnalil tells his story (Melbourne Catholic

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