Belfast Telegraph

Torn Bible pages - Northern Ireland man lost in Israel may be suffering 'Jerusalem Syndrome'

By Jill Goligher

Rescue teams fear a Northern Ireland man missing in the Israeli desert may be suffering from 'Jerusalem Syndrome'.

Devout Christian Oliver McAfee from Dromore, was last seen on November 21.

The 29-year-old had been on a cycling trip along the popular Israel National Trail in the Negev desert at the end of October.

Authorities initially presumed Oliver got lost on the trail as some of his possessions including a tablet computer, his wallet and keys were found near the park in southern Israel. Other items including his bike, other bags and shoes etc were found near an apparent camp site further away.

But now, The Telegraph have reported he had left behind a trail of torn out Bible pages, leading search teams to suspect he was suffering from psychotic delusions known as "Jerusalem Syndrome."

Jerusalem Syndrome is a condition whereby people visiting the city suffer various psychotic religious delusions. They can even come to believe that they are figures from the Bible.

According to The Telegraph, evidence including a makeshift 'chapel' have been discovered, which he would have used to perform 'ceremonies.'

Handwritten scriptures and references to Biblical stories in relation to Jesus' fasting in the desert were also found.

Israeli authorities are working with Interpol and the UKFO to try and locate Ollie along with a volunteer search group.

A member of the volunteer search group searching for the Northern Ireland man said: "He seems to have been doing all kinds of ceremonies that we don't really understand."

Ollie's friend Mark Fletcher told the Belfast Telegraph that it's "awful" not knowing where he is or if he is ok.

He said: "Ollie is a lovely guy - he's quite shy, but has a big heart and is generous with his time and skills. He loves helping people and despite his shyness enjoys travel and meeting new people.

"His family are doing as well as you might imagine - this is obviously really hard for all of us that know him. It's awful to not know where he is and not know if he's OK or not."

A Facebook page has been set up by Oliver's family and friends to help locate him.

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