Al-Qaida Claims Responsibility Killing an American Teacher in Yemen
Al-Qaida’s Yemen branch said Thursday that it killed an American teacher because he was trying to spread Christianity in the mainly Muslim Arab nation.
Joel Shrum, a 29-year-old native of Mount Joy, Pennsylvania, was gunned down on Sunday in the central city of Taiz, where he had been living with his wife and two sons. He was studying Arabic and teaching English at a language institute.
(James Shrum, File/Associated Press) - FILE - This undated file photo provided by James Shrum shows Joel Shrum, an American who was shot to death by gunmen in Taiz, Yemen. Al-Qaida claimed responsibility Thursday, March 22, 2012 for the killing of American teacher Joel Shrum in Yemen.
The claim of responsibility, which was posted on a militant website, comes as the terror network increasingly has sought to exploit the political turmoil in the Arab world’s most impoverished nation.
“It was God’s gift for the mujahedeen to kill the American Joel Shrum who was actively proselytizing under the cover of teaching in Taiz,” said the statement by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, as the terror network’s Yemen branch is formally known.
The slain teacher had worked at the International Training and Development Center, which was established in the 1970s and is one of the oldest foreign language institutes in Yemen.
A text message that circulated by mobile phone in Yemen after his killing said “holy warriors” had killed “a senior missionary” in Taiz, the country’s second most populous city after the capital Sanaa.
Shrum’s parents, who reside in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, say he went to Yemen in 2009 to learn Arabic, not to proselytize, and became passionate about teaching business skills to Yemenis.
A colleague at the language center, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal, said Shrum used to encourage Yemenis to stay true to their Islamic faith and did not try to convert people to Christianity.