Thursday, January 14, 2016
An Oregon folk singer plans to leave next week to serenade the Islamic State, and he intends to bring the black-clad barbarians a prayerful message of peace — despite a warning from the State Department that his life could be in danger.
James Twyman, of Portland, Ore., told FoxNews.com he feels a “calling” and believes he can soften the hearts of the Islamist army known for beheading Westerners, throwing gays off buildings and summarily executing innocent women and children.
“It’s going to be pretty powerful,” Twyman said, referring to his plan to have those attending and others around the world sing and pray for peace at the same time. “When people come together and focus on something in a positive way … there’s scientific evidence that it can change things for the better.”
The author and self-styled “peace troubadour” has put traditional prayers from various faiths to song. Twyman performed in Baghdad in the late 1990s after Operation Desert Storm; in Bosnia and Croatia during the Balkan War in 1995, and has even performed previously in Syria to spread his message of peace through song.
Twyman leaves Jan. 20, and plans to stop in Italy before heading to Israel. From there, he will cross over the northern border shared with Syria to a small Druze village.
While that village, Majdal Shams, is occupied by Israel, Twyman said he has contacts there trying to set up a venue in ISIS-controlled territory. Either way, the show is set for Jan. 31.
Twyman said he will be joined by a large group of Jewish, Muslim and Christian leaders.
“Each one will lead the group in prayer from their religion,” he said. “It’s going to be pretty powerful.”
The US State Department placed heavy restrictions on travel to Syria ever since ISIS started occupying large regions throughout the Middle Eastern country.
“No part of Syria should be considered safe from violence,” reads the travel warning on the State Department website. “The potential for hostile acts exists throughout the country, including kidnappings and the use of chemical warfare against civilian populations.
“There is a terrorist threat from violent extremist groups including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), formerly known as Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQ), the al-Nusrah Front, and others,” reads another part of the warning. “US citizens have been specifically targeted for kidnapping, both for ransom and political purposes, and murdered by members of terrorist and violent extremist groups in Syria. US citizens have disappeared within Syria.
“Due to the security situation in Syria, the US government’s ability to help US citizens kidnapped or taken hostage is very limited,” the warning continues.
Twyman says officials from the State Department reached out to him and urged him to cancel.
“They have advised me not to go,” he said.
Officials from the State Department declined to comment on the matter when contacted by FoxNews.com.
Twyman believes he must go, despite the dangers.
“I’m no sort of hero, but I do believe in the power of this.”