LEBANON. 8 May 2003. A Jordanian convert to Christianity has been killed by a bomb planted outside the home of a missionary couple in Tripoli, North Lebanon.
Initially the Police stated that Jamil Ahmad al-Rifai, 28, had himself planted the bomb; but it is now apparent that he was killed when coming to the aid of the Dutch missionary, Gerrit Griffioen, 52, and his family.
At 11.30pm, Tuesday 6 May, Griffioen's German wife, Barbel, 44, realised there was an intruder in their garden. The Dutchman called to al-Rifai, his next door neighbour, to help; by the time they entered the garden the intruder had fled. Griffioen proceeded to extinguish the fuse and then gave chase. Meanwhile al-Rifai was carrying the couple's three children out of the house; after that he returned to the garden. The 2kg bomb detonated when he was either trying to diffuse it or simply move it further away; the blast made his body almost unidentifiable.
The family survived the blast without injury, though according to Beirut's Daily Star one of their children, a 9-year-old boy was slightly hurt. Griffioen has been repeatedly threatened during his 20 years of work in Lebanon. He is a widely known and well respected Christian leader.
A man, going by the name of Mohammad, is being held in connection with the bombing. Recently he had been attending meetings run by the Griffioens claiming that he wanted to become a Christian.
Last November American missionary, Bonnie Penner Witherall, was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in Sidon. Both Sidon and Tripoli are known to be centres of radical Sunni Islam.