We perish because we know not… #TLENews
Militants affiliated with the Libyan branch of Islamic State (Isis) released a video on Sunday evening claiming to show the mass beheading of 21 Christians kidnapped in Libya.
The five-minute video is filmed in a style similar to that of previous videos depicting the murders of Western prisoners by Isis, an armed group that overran large parts of Iraq and Syria last year.
At least 21 Egyptians were kidnapped in two separate incidents in the city of Sirte, Libya in December and January.
Relatives of the hostages had previously identified the captured men in media released by Isis, including an online magazine published days ago.
The video depicts several men in orange jumpsuits being led along a beach, each accompanied by a masked militant. The men are made to kneel and one militant, dressed differently that the others, 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 men are then laid face-down and simultaneously beheaded. The militant speaker then points northward and says: “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.”
Mina Thabet, a researcher at the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, who has been communicating regularly with the families of the hostages, said that he believed that all but one of the victims in the video were Egyptians. The last man was likely from sub-Saharan Africa.
Thabet faulted the Egyptian government for what he asserted was a delayed response to the hostage crisis. “There is blood on the hands of the authorities who could have saved them but failed to.”
Egypt announced on Friday an offer to facilitate the exit of Egyptians living in LIbya. Tens of thousands of Egyptians live and work in the country.
The video was released the day after Isis took control of Sirte, birthplace of the late dictator Muammar Gaddafi, with gunmen capturing government buildings and radio stations, the third town in Libya it now holds.
Sirte had been held by Libya Dawn, an Islamist-led militia coalition that rebelled against the elected government in the summer and has been fighting a bitter war with government forces ever since.
Isis has emerged in recent weeks as a third side in a civil war, raising western fears that it will launch terror strikes across the Mediterranean against Europe. Fears of an attack by Isisprompted Italy evacuate its Tripoli embassy on Sunday, the last major power to do so.