ICC Note: The brutal beheading of 21 Christians by Islamic militants loyal to ISIS or the Islamic state has sent shockwaves through the country of Egypt and through Christian communities around the world. The video makes explicit threats towards Rome, made from the coast in Libya, just 500 miles from the southern tip of Italy, and further confirms the geographic spread of jihadist groups affiliated explicitly with ISIS which has controlled large portions of Iraq and Syria.
02/16/2015 Egypt (Gospel Herald) In a video released on Sunday, 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians were beheaded by Libyan extremist group, which swear allegiance to the Islamic State Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Christian leaders around the world, including Pope Francis, Franklin Graham, condemned the brutal murders of the fellow brothers in Christ.
“The blood of our Christian brothers is a witness that cries out,” said Pope Francis, according to Vatican Radio Report, on Monday. “If they are Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it is not important: They are Christians. The blood is the same: It is the blood which confesses Christ.”
Francis said the hostages, believed to be laborers from Egypt working in Libya, are now “martyrs.”
In the five-minute video titled: “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross,” the executioner speaks in English and points his knife toward the Mediterranean. “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission,” he says, according to CNN.
The statement in the video were unlike those of other Islamist groups in the region, for it did not mention the Egyptian state, or other powers in Libya’s civil war, in which both of the country’s rival governments claim to be combating ISIS in Libya.
Instead, the group’s ultimatum is directed towards “Rome,” and Christians, who are labelled “The people of the cross, the followers of the hostile Egyptian Church,” CNN reports. In the Bible, Apostle Paul, who wrote half of the New Testament, has aimed at bringing the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Rome, which was the center of the world then. In an apparent challenge, the Islamic The phrase could also mean the west where Christianity is the dominate religion.
The video ends with the Mediterranean waves dyed red from the blood of the murdered men.
Before the video was released, Twitter accounts linked to the Libyan branch of ISIS had revealed on Friday the photos captioned, “The Islamic State carrying out the execution of the Coptic prisoners in the province of Tripoli.”
In the photo caption, the extremist claimed the execution was for the “revenge for the Muslim women persecuted by Coptic crusaders in Egypt.”
The latest executions of the Egyptian Christian workers, who were captured in Sirte, on Libya’s coast, in December and January, stirred horror in the small Egyptian village of El Aor, home of many of the abductees. “It was a dark day in the village. Everyone was crying,” said Mina Thabet, a representative of Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms.