The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) published a shocking new video on Sunday in which it showed the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians in Libya. The group, which has taken advantage of the anarchy prevailing in Libya to gain a foothold in its territories, kidnapped the Egyptian guest workers a few weeks ago and killed them as punishment for being “infidels.”
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi promised to avenge the death of the Copts, members of the largest church in the Middle East, which is centered in Egypt. Arab press reported (Arabic link) that Egyptian aircraft attacked ISIS targets in Libya. Egypt’s struggle against ISIS supporters, largely centered in the Sinai Peninsula, have to date preoccupied the country from pursuing military action outside its territory, but now the equation appears to have changed.
Egyptian experts on extremist movements believe that, beyond religious disputes between Muslims and Christians, ISIS executed the Coptic Christians in Libya in an attempt to drag the Egyptian army into a ground war. Maher Frgali, an Egyptian researcher of extremist movements, emphasized in an interview with the Egyptian news website Sada al-Balad (Arabic link) that “the terror organizations located in Libya attacked the Egyptian Copts to pressure Egypt, irritate it and thus drag its army to war and a ground clash.”
Frgali added that the massacre of Coptic Christians is part of an ideological conflict that did not exist previously among the radical Islamist organizations. He said that this conflict has become very prominent since the appearance and rapid growth of ISIS. Another researcher on global terrorism, Munir Adib, explained:
“Takfir [non-believer] organizations see all the people who are different from them, religiously or ideologically, as an enemy. The assassination of Egyptian Copts in Libya is intended perhaps for the sake of political benefit to ISIS. Talking about the Copts who were kidnapped by ISIS in Libya does not have to revolve around the religious axis only, but we must know that the organization has also attacked many Muslims.”
Earlier this month, the kingdom of Jordan stepped up its attacks on ISIS after a Jordanian pilot was burned alive by the terror group.
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