By Sarah Mac Donald - 16 February, 2015
International Christian Concern (ICC) has condemned the brutal killing of 21 Egyptian Christians by militants in Libya claiming affiliation with Islamic State.
A video released on Sunday by the media arm of ISIS purports to show the beheading of a group of Egyptian Copts who were kidnapped in two separate incidents in the Libyan city of Sirte in December and January and had been held hostage for weeks.
The savage five-minute video is filmed in a style similar to that of previous videos depicting the murders of Western prisoners by ISIS, who have overrun large parts of Iraq and Syria.
In the video, the captive men dressed in orange jump suits are made to kneel and one militant, dressed differently to the others who are in black, addresses the camera in North American-accented English.
“All crusaders: safety for you will be only wishes, especially if you are fighting us all together. Therefore, we will fight you all together,” he said.
“The sea you have hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.”
The captive men are then laid face-down and simultaneously beheaded near a beach in Tripoli.
The militant speaker then points northward and says, “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.”
Egypt’s state news agency MENA quoted a spokesman for the Coptic Church as confirming that the 21 Egyptian Christians believed to be held by Islamic State were dead.
A caption on the five-minute video read: “The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church.”
Thousands of Egyptians have travelled to Libya in search of jobs since an uprising at home in 2011, despite advice from their government not to go to a country sliding into lawlessness.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has called a seven-day mourning period and an urgent meeting of Egypt’s top military commanders.
International Christian Concern (ICC) spoke to Kerolos Fayez, the brother of Mina Fayez, one of those taken captive in Libya.
The family was in shock and deep mourning as their worst fears were confirmed in the video.
Todd Daniels, ICC regional manager for the Middle East said, “The video released today once again demonstrates the incredible evil that is being perpetrated by militants loyal to the Islamic State.”
“We mourn alongside of the families of those who have been killed, along with all Egyptians who saw their countrymen brutally killed, and with Christians around the world,” he said.
“These Islamic extremists continue to claim their inspiration for their actions from their religious beliefs and have once again committed perpetrated horrific violence in establishing their religious beliefs.”
The ICC spokesman strongly urged the Egyptian government “to act swiftly to provide protection for its citizens who remain in Libya and face continued threats if they attempt to flee the country.”
“The international community must continue to take swift and decisive action to see that those who are responsible for this violence are brought to justice,” he warned.
The Coptic Church said it is confident the Egyptian government in Cairo will seek justice.
Al Azhar, the centre of Islamic learning in Egypt, said no religion would accept such “barbaric” acts.
Libya is caught in a chaotic power struggle between two rival factions operating their own governments, and in this context Islamist militants are taking advantage of the turmoil to strengthen their presence.
A number of Islamist militant groups have been active since the fall of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 left Libya without a strong central government.
A few have declared ties to the radical Islamic State and claimed high-profile attacks over recent weeks in what appears to be an intensifying campaign.
Last month, Islamic State claimed responsibility when at least two gunmen stormed into the five-star Corinthia Hotel in Tripoli, killing nine people, including an American security contractor and a Frenchman.