American missionary murdered in Sidon, Lebanon
Christian and Missionary Alliance missionary Bonnie Weatherall, 31, was found murdered this morning at the denomination's health clinic in Sidon, a port city in southern Lebanon. As the Washington state native was opening the clinic at 8 a.m. (midnight EST), an unidentified man knocked on the door, then shot her in the head three times with a 7 mm pistol.
Sami Dagher, director of the Unity Center that houses the clinic and provides aid and medical care to Lebanese and Palestinian refugees, said a motive is still unknown. There have been no threats against the clinic or its workers, but the Associated Press (which has a rather gory video of the aftermath) reports, "Local Muslim clerics have criticized the Unity Center in the past, accusing it of preaching Christianity and trying to indoctrinate Sidon's youth in favor of Christianity."
Reuters notes that "the area where the shooting occurred is a hotbed for Muslim fundamentalist groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and Lebanese radical Islamists."
An unnamed police official told the AP, "This was apparently an act committed by a person filled with anti-American feelings in the generally hostile climate toward the U.S., which people here reproach for its desire to carry out a war against Iraq, and for supporting Israel."
But Weatherall's friends and family see it a bit differently. "Bonnie died because she loved the people of Sidon," Sami Dagher told reporters.
In a statement on the C&MA website, the victim's British husband, Gary Weatherall, made a similar statement. "My wife died because of her love for the church and because she loved helping the people of Sidon and Lebanon," he said.
"She loved her work," Asa Bjork, a Swedish friend, ...1