Egypt to ‘avenge ISIS criminal killings’ of mass beheading of Coptic Christian hostages

February 16, 2015 11:28 am

warplanes have already struck back at Islamic State ()
targets in Libya, after a video of a mass killing of Christians was
released.
A spokesman for the Armed Forces General Command
announced the strikes on state radio Monday, marking the first time
Cairo has publicly acknowledged taking military action in neighboring
Libya, which has been beset by militia violence for months.
The
statement said the warplanes targeted weapons caches and training camps
before returning safely. It said the strikes were “to avenge the
bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers.”
“Let those far and near know that Egyptians have a shield that protects them,” it said.
Egypt
called for a seven day period of mourning over the death of 21 Egyptian
Christians, beheaded by Isis militants, and warned it would “avenge the
criminal killings.”

A still from the video, which appears to show Isis militants beheading 21 hostages. Photo / Screengrab

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warned that his country would respond to the deaths as it saw fit.
Sisi said Cairo would choose the “necessary means and timing to avenge the criminal killings”.
Thousands
of Egyptians desperate for work have traveled to Libya since an
uprising at home in 2011, despite advice from their government not to go
to a country sliding into lawlessness.
Sisi, who met with the
country’s top military commanders to discuss the killings, called for a
seven-day mourning period, state television reported.

Last week,
Cairo began to evacuate all Egyptian citizens wishing to return from
Libya, and has renewed a travel alert to the neighbouring country.
Militants
in Libya had been holding the 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians hostage for
weeks, all laborers rounded up from the city of Sirte in December and
January.
The makers of the video identify themselves as the Tripoli Province of the Islamic State group.
Libya
has seen a rise of powerful armed militias in the wake of the downfall
and death of dictator Muammar Gaddafi in the 2011 NATO-backed uprising.
The
video, released late Sunday night (local time), depicted 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 from 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.
Read more: The anatomy of a failed hostage rescue deep into Islamic State territory
The militant speaker then pointed northward and said, “We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission.”
Militants
in Libya had been holding 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians hostage for
weeks, threatening them with death. The makers of the video identify
themselves as the Tripoli Province of the Islamic State group – the
Islamic militant group that controls about a third of and .
The Associated Press could not immediately independently verify the video.
The
Egyptian government declared a seven-day mourning period and President
Abdel Fattah el-Sissi convened an emergency national security meeting to
discuss a response.
El-Sissi sent condolences to “the victims of terrorism,” according to a statement released by the presidency.
Qalini
Sanyout, whose two nephews were among the hostages, answered the phone
Sunday night amid the sound of wailing in the background.
“What
can we say? Can someone tell us if this is true.” he said repeatedly.
“The whole village is in mourning. Men are covering their heads with
dust and mud.”
– Great sorrow –
In a
statement, Al-Azhar – the prestigious Cairo-based seat of Islamic
learning – said it had heard the of the beheadings “of a group of
innocent Egyptians with great sorrow and grief”.
“Al-Azhar stresses that such barbaric action has nothing to do with any religion or human values.”
The
latest Isis video comes just days after the jihadists released footage
showing the gruesome burning alive of a Jordanian pilot the group
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.
The
video, entitled “A message signed with blood to the nation of the
cross”, has a scrolling caption in the first few seconds referring to
the hostages as “People of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian
Church”.
One of the masked captors, wearing a military uniform
and pointing a knife to the camera said in English: “Today we are in the
south of Rome, in the land of Islam Libya… the sea you have hidden
Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with
your blood.”
Al-Qaeda founder Bin Laden was shot and killed in a
dramatic helicopter raid by US special forces in Pakistan in the early
hours of May 2, 2011 and later buried at sea in an unidentified
location.
After the beheadings shown today, a scrolling caption
on the footage said: “The filthy blood is just some of what awaits you,
in revenge for Camilia and her sisters.”
– ‘We will take revenge’ –
A
background voice believed to be IS spokesman Abu Mohamed al-Adnani
says: “We swear to Allah we will take revenge, even if it takes a
while.”
Egyptian women Camilia Shehata and Wafa Constantine were
the wives of Coptic priests whose alleged conversion sparked a sectarian
dispute in Egypt in 2010.
Shehata went missing for five days in
July that year after a domestic argument before police found her and
escorted her back home.
When she went missing, Coptic Christians
staged protests, but when she was returned, Islamists took to the
streets alleging she had willingly converted to Islam and was being held
by the church against her will.
Wafa Constantine also went
missing, in 2004, reportedly after her husband refused to give her a
divorce. She was temporarily sequestered at a convent as reports of her
conversion were circulated.
In January, the Isis branch in Libya claimed it had abducted 21 Christians.
A
spokesman for the Egyptian foreign ministry confirmed to AFP in Cairo
at the time that 20 Egyptians had been kidnapped in two separate
incidents.
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.

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