Members of the militant terrorist group ISIS have issued death threats against American pastor Saeed Abedini inside the Iranian prison in which some members of the brutal group are detained with Abedini, says a group working to obtain his freedom.
According to the American Center for Law and Justice
(ACLJ), Abedini told family members he has learned that ISIS militants imprisoned in the same ward of Rajai Shahr prison have told fellow prisoners they plan to kill him because of his Christian faith.
Abedini, 34, of Boise, Idaho, was imprisoned in September 2012 on charges of endangering national security, but his supporters say he was in Iran working to build an orphanage with the permission of the Iranian government.
Although Abedini and the ISIS terrorists are housed in separate sections of the ward, on several occasions they have encountered each other on their way back and forth from the prison yard. In the past, al-Qaida prisoners have attempted to kill the pastor in the yard, but he was saved by other prisoners, says ACLJ Executive Director Jordan Sekulow.
Abedini, who converted to Christianity in 2000, has chosen to remain in his cell because of fears he could meet the ISIS militants face to face during his one-hour exercise period outdoors, Sekulow wrote on the ACLJ's website.
Reports of the death threats come a week after Abedini's children, Rebekka and Jacob, posted a video on YouTube asking President Barack Obama to bring their father home.
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"Why does our daddy need to be in prison because he loves Jesus?" asks Rebekka.
"I don't want him to miss another birthday or Christmas or Father's Day," says Jacob, who adds later in the video that his "heart cries because it misses Daddy."
"I hope [the president] sees the human part of it ... I hope to reach his human heart, his human side,'' Abedini's wife, Naghmeh Abedini, said from her home in Boise during an interview Tuesday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV
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"He's a dad. He has two daughters ... I hope it reaches something inside of him to want to do something to get [my husband] home," she said.
Secretary of State John Kerry mentioned Abedini during his speech accompanying the release on July 28 of the State Department's 2013 Report on International Religious Freedom.
"In Iran, U.S.-Iranian citizen pastor Saeed Abedini remains imprisoned. The Iranian authorities sentenced him to eight years behind bars simply because of his religious beliefs," Kerry said. "We will continue to call for his release, and we will continue to work for it."
Kerry and the Obama administration had remained silent for the first year of Abedini's eight-year term, issuing their first public statement on the pastor three days after an Iranian court rejected an appeal to reduce his prison sentence.
Kerry said in a statement
released by the State Department in July 2013 that the United States "respectfully asks the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran to work cooperatively with us in our efforts to help U.S. citizens Robert Levinson, Amir Hekmati, and Saeed Abedini to return to their families after lengthy detentions."
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