A group of 21 Egyptian Christians, who were seized by Islamic State fighters while working in Libya, have been killed in a new video
slamic State jihadists have released a video showing the murder of 21 Egyptians, who they captured in Libyaaround Christmas.
The Egyptians, dressed in orange jump suits, were beheaded after being forced down on the ground. The video appeared on the Twitter feed of a website that supports Islamic State. A caption on the five-minute video read: “The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.”
Before the killings, one of the militants stood with a knife in his hand and said: “Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for.”
The 21 men, all migrant workers hailing from impoverished areas of central Egypt, were kidnapped between late December and early January. Fourteen came for the same village, Al-Our.
An eyewitness to the abductions of several of the men on January 4 told that black-clad militants had entered their living quarters in the middle of the night, carrying a list of named Christians.
Relatives in adjoining rooms were left cowering behind their doors, waiting for the jihadists to break them down. But the militants left suddenly, apparently after kidnapping an allotted quota of victims.
And it was also announced on Saturday that a second group of 21 Egyptians had been kidnapped in Libya – this time from Misrata. It was not clear why Isil had seized two groups of 21 people.
Isil claims to have established affiliate groups in three different areas of Libya, a common destination for Egyptian Christians.
The story of Isil’s Egyptian hostages is entwined with those of the region’s soured revolutions.
They left Egypt, their families say, for a better life. Four years after the overthrow of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak, the country’s battle-scarred economy offered them little work, and Christian churches and shops in their governorate, Minya, had faced a series of high-profile sectarian attacks.
The journey out of poverty to Libya is one that many have made over the years. Every year, thousands of Egyptians are lured by the prospect of salaries up to seven times greater than the paltry sums they can command at home.
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi reacted to the killings by saying Egypt reserved the right to respond in a “suitable way and time” and would enforce a strict travel ban on travel to Libya.
Mr Sisi’s government has faced heavy criticism from the families of the hostages, who say they have seen no concrete attempts to resolve the situation.