The situation for American Pastor Saeed Abedini - being held in an Iranian prison - has taken a terrible and dangerous turn for the worse.
Pastor Saeed, who has been imprisoned for nearly two years in Iran because of his Christian faith, is now facing grave new death threats - not from the Iranians who are holding him captive, but from the radical ISIS terrorists who are conducting a campaign of genocide against Christians in Iraq.
Our legal team, which represents Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, and their two young children who live in the U.S., just discovered that ISIS terrorists are being held in Rajai Shahr Prison – in fact in the same prison ward where Pastor Saeed is being held. And now we know that other prisoners have told Pastor Saeed that if ISIS prisoners have the opportunity, they will murder him because of his Christian faith.
The situation is grave.
Although Pastor Saeed is currently in a separate section of the prison ward - separated from ISIS prisoners - he has communicated to family members that he is forgoing his daily trip to the prison yard for exercise because he would be exposed to the general prison population there - including the ISIS prisoners.
What's worse, due to the severe overcrowding and lack of supervision of the prisoners, Pastor Saeed communicated that he has had to hide inside his cell and rely on the protection of fellow prisoners when some of these extremists have ventured into his section on their return to the ward from these daily outings.
In essence, Pastor Saeed has become a prisoner inside the prison.
Sadly, this is not the first time he has had to fend off attackers. In the past, al Qaeda terrorists imprisoned there have also threatened his life. On past occasions, al Qaeda members have attempted to kill Pastor Saeed in the prison yard, saved only by other prisoners who intervened.
As we know, ISIS is a brutally violent offshoot for al Qaeda in Iraq, proving they are far more violent than even al Qaeda itself. ISIS is terrorizing and massacring Christians throughout Iraq and Syria. Killing Pastor Saeed within Iran, which has publicly opposed ISIS, would provide a monumental victory for these murderous terrorists.
While the Obama Administration is now conducting limited air attacks against ISIS in an effort to save Christians and other minorities, it is imperative that both President Obama and Secretary Kerry directly intervene in Pastor Saeed's plight.
Now more than ever, with Pastor Saeed's life hanging in the balance, the president and State Department must intervene immediately to secure Pastor Saeed’s release and to ensure that he is protected during this transfer to freedom.
As Pastor Saeed approaches two years of wrongful imprisonment in Iran (September 26th), Pastor Saeed’s two young children – Jacob and Rebekka – have recorded a personal plea asking President Obama to "please bring my daddy home."
Six-year-old Jacob implores, “I don’t want him to miss another birthday, or Christmas, or Fathers Day. . . . My heart cries because it misses daddy.” Seven-year-old Rebekka pleads, “Why does our daddy need to be in prison for loving Jesus?” The video is available here.
The fact is 34-year-old Pastor Saeed has committed no crime. But that does not matter to the radical Iranians or to the ISIS prisoners who want him dead. That is why it is so critical for the United States to stand up for this U.S. citizen now – step forward – and bring an end to this horrific ordeal.
Jay Sekulow is Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which focuses on constitutional law. He is a New York Times bestselling author. Jay's latest book is "UNDEMOCRATIC: How Unelected, Unaccountable Bureaucrats Are Stealing Your Liberty and Freedom" (Howard Books May 19, 2015). He hosts "Jay Sekulow Live"-- a daily radio show which is broadcast on more than 850 stations nationwide as well as Sirius/XM satellite radio. Follow him on Twitter @JaySekulow.