Libya Channel with Reuters
Islamic State militants in Libya claim to have executed 30 Ethiopian Christians in their latest graphic video that threatens to kill “worshippers of the cross” who refuse to convert to Islam.
The 29-minute film, released online by their media branch, opened with heavily-armed fighters ordering Christians to pay a historical extortion tax called “jizya”, become Muslim or face death. It featured footage of their militants destroying numerous Christian places of worship within IS’s expanding empire in Syria and Iraq.
The killings in the clip take place in two areas of Libya – Cyrenaica and Fezzan – marking the first time that IS, usually based in the east, revealed its presence in the south of the country.
An English-speaking fighter in the south – standing in front of a group of kneeling men identified as the Ethiopian Copts – warned that disobeying IS results in death.
“To the nation of the cross we are back…you will not have safety even in your dreams, until you embrace Islam,” the man said brandishing a pistol. Next to him machine-gun wielding fighters stand guard over the Christians captives.
“Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy between truth and falsehood,” he added, before fighters shoot them dead.
The movie cut to a second execution in east Libya, where black-clad IS militants march another group of Ethiopian Copts, dressed in orange jumpsuits, down a beach, before hacking off their heads.
It closed with a final warning from an IS leader speaking in an undisclosed location.
“Those who convert to Islam are safe… Those who refuse, we don’t have anything for them but the sword,” he said.
Ethiopia said it had not been able to verify whether the people shown in the video were its citizens.
“Nonetheless, the Ethiopian government condemns the atrocious act,” government spokesman Redwan Hussein said.
He said Ethiopia, which does not have an embassy in Libya, would help repatriate Ethiopians if they wanted to leave Libya.
The deceased are thought to be migrant workers based temporarily in Libya to earn enough money to make the deadly Mediterranean sea crossing to Italy.
The United States also condemned the “brutal mass murder,” with the White House saying the killing of the men “solely because of their faith lays bare the terrorists’ vicious, senseless brutality.”
IS in Libya has increasingly threatened the country’s migrant Christian population in the last few months.
In February the similar execution of 22 Egyptian Christians sparked outrage across the world and prompted the Egypt to launch airstrikes against their positions in east Libya.
The blood-thirsty group – which has seized territory in the east, west and south of the country – has released several videos using Libya’s close proximity to Europe to threaten the Western Christian community.
Islamic State controls large parts of Iraq and Syria and wants to redraw the map of the Middle East. It is not clear how many fighters it has in Libya.