Egyptian Church confirms 21 killed in Libya after Islamic State issues video

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ISIS released a video on Sunday purportedly showing the beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians the militants say they captured in Libya
By Staff writer | Al Arabiya News
Sunday, 15 February 2015

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called Sunday an urgent meeting of Egypt’s top national security body after ISIS militants released a video purportedly showing the beheading of Egyptian Christians in Libya. Sisi also gave a television address, saying that Egypt and the world are facing “ferocious threats” hailing from radical militants, who are “devoid of any humane sense.”He also said Egypt is “capable” in facing this menace, adding that Egyptians are no longer allowed to travel to Libya.

ISIS released a video on Sunday purportedly showing the beheading of Egyptian Coptic Christians the militants say they captured in Libya.
The footage released online shows handcuffed hostages wearing orange jumpsuits being beheaded by their black-suited captors on a seashore in the Libyan capital of Tripoli. Egypt’s state news agency MENA quoted the spokesman for the Coptic Church as confirming that 21 Egyptian Christians believed to be held by ISIS were dead.

Egypt also announced a seven-day mourning period.
Families of the 27 Egyptian Coptic Christians workers kidnapped in the Libyan city of Sirte, hold pictures of their kidnapped relatives as they ask for their release, in front of the U.N. office in Cairo January 19, 2015. (Reuters)

Al-Azhar condemns ‘barbaric’ killing
Meanwhile, Sunni Islam’s top body, Al-Azhar, on Sunday condemned the “barbaric” beheading of the Copts. “Al-Azhar received the news of the execution of a group of innocent Egyptians with great sorrow and grief,” Al-Azhar said in a statement.“Al-Azhar stresses that such barbaric action has nothing to do with any religion or human values.”

Dabiq magazine
In the latest issue of ISIS online magazine Dabiq, the group said 21 Egyptian hostages were being held, and pictures showed a similar background.
The video, titled “A message signed with blood to the nation of the cross,” has a scrolling caption in the first few seconds saying it is directed at “People of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church.”Sunday’s video comes just days after ISIS released a video showing the gruesome burning alive of a Jordanian pilot it captured after his F-16 came down in Syria in December.

The highly choreographed video showing the killing of Maaz al-Kassasbeh triggered global outrage. In January, ISIS branch in Libya claimed it had abducted 21 Christians. A spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry confirmed to AFP in Cairo that 20 Egyptians had been kidnapped in two separate incidents in neighboring Libya. Badr Abdelatty did not say when they were seized or specify their religious affiliation, but said seven Egyptians and 13 others abducted separately in Libya “are still being detained” by their captors.

Italy closes Libyan embassy
In a related story, Italy closed its embassy in Libya on Sunday and stepped up its call for a U.N. mission to calm the worsening conflict there as thousands of migrants approached Italy by boat from North Africa.  Libya is unraveling, with two rival governments operating their own armed forces under separate parliaments, nearly four years after the civil war that ousted leader Muammar Gaddafi. “The deteriorating situation in Libya made it necessary to close (the embassy),” Foreign Minister Paolo Gentiloni said. Embassy staff have been sent back to Italy, the ministry said.
(With AFP and Reuters)

Egyptian Church confirms 21 killed in Libya after Islamic State issues video
February 15/15
CAIRO (Reuters) – Islamic State released a video on Sunday purporting to show the beheading of a group of Egyptian Christians kidnapped in Libya, violence likely to deepen Cairo’s concerns over security threats from militants thriving in the neighboring country’s chaos.
Egypt’s state news agency MENA quoted the spokesman for the Coptic Church as confirming that 21 Egyptian Christians believed to be held by Islamic State were dead. In the video, militants in black marched the captives, dressed in orange jump suits, to a beach the group said was near Tripoli. They were forced down onto their knees, then beheaded.

The video appeared on the Twitter feed of a website that supports Islamic State, which has seized parts of Iraq and Syria and has also beheaded Western hostages.  A caption on the five-minute video read: “The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church.”
Thousands of Egyptians have traveled 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.

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.”
President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi called a seven-day mourning period and an urgent meeting of Egypt’s top military commanders, state television reported. The Coptic Church said it was confident the Cairo government would seek justice. Al Azhar, the center of Islamic learning in Egypt, said no religion would accept such “barbaric” acts. The families of the kidnapped workers had urged Cairo to help secure their release. In the southerly Minya Governorate, relatives screamed and fainted upon hearing news of the deaths.

CONCERNS ABOUT LIBYA
Sisi has repeatedly expressed concerns about militants based in Libya who are seeking to topple his government.
Those militants have made contact with Sinai Province, a group operating from Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that has changed its name from Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis and pledged allegiance to Islamic State.The group has killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police since the army toppled Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.

With Libya caught in a chaotic power struggle between two rival factions operating their own governments, Western officials fear 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. Fears that the crisis in neighboring Libya could spill across the border have prompted Egypt to upgrade its military hardware. French President Francois Hollande has said Egypt will order 24 Rafale fighter jets, a naval frigate and related military equipment in a deal to be signed in Cairo on Monday worth more than 5 billion euros ($5.7 billion).

(Reporting by Ahmed Tolba; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Kevin Liffey)