KETTERING, Ohio (ChurchMilitant.com) - Three Arab men were caught recording footage in Ascension Catholic Church in Kettering, Ohio Sunday, claiming they were only "studying" Christianity — but JihadWatch's Robert Spencer is calling their behavior "suspicious in the extreme."
The men, who were visiting their families from Saudi Arabia, had all passed background checks and, according to church authorities, simply breached "proper etiquette."
"While their actions did arouse suspicion, we believe their actions were simply a breach of proper etiquette," a statement on Ascension's website read Thursday morning. "While current evidence suggests that they intended no ill will, the Kettering police and other appropriate agencies are continuing to thoroughly investigate the matter and are keeping us aware of their findings."
Church Militant contacted Robert Spencer, director of JihadWatch.org. Spencer said that if the Saudis were really studying Christianity, "they could have approached the priest and asked him questions. They could have read books about Christianity. They could even have asked permission to videotape. That they did none of these things is suspicious in the extreme."
Spencer highlighted that authorities, when apprehending an extremist or investigating an attack after the fact, have found that the extremists usually have videos in their possession of their intended targets.
Many jihadis have been discovered with videos of prospective target sites in their possession. The Islamic State (ISIS) has quite recently called on Muslims to attack Christians. What's more, jihadis thrive on intimidation, striving to "strike terror into the enemies of Allah" (Qur'an 8:60) — at the very least the videotaping of the Mass would unnerve and frighten the parishioners. This incident should be treated as the intentional provocation that it clearly was.
Regarding local authorities ignoring the attack by writing it off as merely a "breach of proper etiquette," Spencer remarked that such curious behavior should be looked at with a more wary eye.
"The phenomenon of Muslims videotaping at sensitive sites cannot be ignored by those concerned about jihad terror," he commented to ChurchMilitant.com. "What has been passed off as innocent tourist interest includes videotaping of water treatment plants, electrical plants and other sites without plausible interest for tourists."
Concerns have developed after ISIS earlier this month, in its propaganda magazine Dabiq, ordered its supporters who live in the West to attack more Christians.
Titled "Break the Cross," the issue is dedicated to calling all Europeans and Westerners to "abandon their infidelity and accept Islam, the religion of sincerity and submission to the Lord of the heavens and the Earth."
It was released a week after two ISIS "soldiers" slit the throat of French priest Fr. Jacques Hamel and took two nuns hostage in Rouen, France. At the altar following the murder of the priest, the two men gave their own sermon in Arabic saying they had pledged allegiance to ISIS and it was their duty as Muslims to kill Christians.