March 21, 2012
Al Qaeda-linked militants who claimed responsibility for the shooting death of an American teacher in Yemen March 18 said he was targeted for being "one of the biggest American proselytizers" in the Muslim-majority nation, the Christian Science Monitor reports. Joel Shrum, an English-language teacher for the International Training Development Center, was known by Yemenis to be a devout Christian, and his employers said he was a "very professional employee who highly respected the Islamic religion." Sources said Shrum would openly talk about his faith, but was largely seen as a beloved figure who devoted himself to his work. The killing came just days after Saudi Arabia's top Islamic leader called for the destruction of all churches in the Arabian Peninsula, where Yemen is located. Yemen's constitution does not protect freedom of religion.