(FoxNews) White House condemns ISIS video that purportedly shows killing of Ethiopian Christians in Libya

From: Biniam Tekle <biniamt_at_dehai.org_at_dehai.org>
Date: Sun, 19 Apr 2015 22:21:43 -0400

"It also mirrored a film released in February showing militants
beheading 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach, which
immediately drew Egyptian airstrikes on the group's suspected
positions in Libya. Whether Ethiopia would -- or could -- respond with
similar military force remains unclear"

White House condemns ISIS video that purportedly shows killing of
Ethiopian Christians in Libya

Published April 19, 2015
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This undated image made from a video released by Islamic State
militants, Sunday, April 19, 2015, appears to show the killing of a
group of captured Ethiopian Christians in Libya. (AP)

The White House Sunday evening condemned a video purportedly showing a
mass execution of Ethiopian Christians in Libya by terrorists
affiliated with Islamic State.

"We express our condolences to the families of the victims and our
support to the Ethiopian government and people as they grieve for
their fellow citizens," National Security Council spokesperson
Bernadette Meehan said in a statement. "That these terrorists killed
these men solely because of their faith lays bare the terrorists'
vicious, senseless brutality."

In the video released Sunday, Islamic State militants in Libya shot
and beheaded groups of captive Ethiopian Christians. The attack widens
the circle of nations affected by the group's atrocities while showing
its growth beyond a self-declared caliphate in Syria and Iraq.

The release of the 29-minute video comes a day after Afghanistan's
president blamed the extremists for a suicide attack in his country
that killed at least 35 people -- and underscores the chaos gripping
Libya after its 2011 civil war and the killing of dictator Muammar

It also mirrored a film released in February showing militants
beheading 21 captured Egyptian Christians on a Libyan beach, which
immediately drew Egyptian airstrikes on the group's suspected
positions in Libya. Whether Ethiopia would -- or could -- respond with
similar military force remains unclear.

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Ethiopia long has drawn the anger of Islamic extremists over its
military's attacks on neighboring Somalia, whose population is almost
entirely Muslim. While the militant in the video at one point said
"Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not
cheap," it did not specifically mention the Ethiopian government's

The video, released via militant social media accounts and websites,
could not be independently verified by The Associated Press. However,
it corresponded to other videos released by the Islamic State group
and bore the symbol of its al-Furqan media arm.

The video starts with what it called a history of Christian-Muslim
relations, followed by scenes of militants destroying churches, graves
and icons. A masked fighter brandishing a pistol delivers a long
statement, saying Christians must convert to Islam or pay a special
tax prescribed by the Quran.

It shows one group of captives, identified as Ethiopian Christians,
purportedly held by an Islamic State affiliate in eastern Libya known
as Barqa Province. It also shows another purportedly held by an
affiliate in the southern Libyan calling itself the Fazzan Province.
The video then switches between footage of the captives in the south
being shot dead and the captives in the east being beheaded on a
beach. It was not immediately possible to estimate how many captives
were killed or confirm their identities.

In Ethiopia, government spokesman Redwan Hussein said officials were
in contact with its embassy in Cairo to verify the video's
authenticity. Hussein said he believed those killed likely were
Ethiopian migrants hoping to reach Europe. Libya has become a hub for
migrants across Africa hoping to cross the Mediterranean to enter
Europe for work and better lives.

"If this is confirmed, it will be a warning to people who wish to risk
and travel to Europe though the dangerous route," Hussein said.

Abba Kaletsidk Mulugeta, an official with the Ethiopian Orthodox
Tewahdo Church's Patriarchate Office, told the AP he also believed the
victims likely were migrants.

"I believe this is just another case of the IS group killing
Christians in the name of Islam. Our fellow citizens have just been
killed on a faith-based violence that is totally unacceptable. This is
outrageous," Mulugeta said. "No religion orders the killing of other
people, even people from another religion."

Ethiopia's options to retaliate remain slim, given its distance from
Libya. However, Egyptian Ambassador to Ethiopia Mohammed Edrees said
his country could partner with Addis Ababa to strike the militants.

"That could be an option," Edrees told the AP. "We will see and
explore what is possible to deal with group."

Edrees said Ethiopian officials had yet to approach Egypt to discuss the idea.

After the February killings of the Coptic Christians, Egypt's military
responded with airstrikes targeting the militant stronghold of Darna.
It has not launched further strikes, though its president is trying to
form a pan-Arab military force to respond to extremist threats in the

The Islamic State group, which grew out of Al Qaeda's former Iraqi
affiliate, now holds about a third of Iraq and Syria in its
self-declared caliphate. It's called on Muslims across the world to
join it. Its online videos and propaganda, including scenes of its
mass killings and beheadings, have caught the attention of many

Its influence has grown since it seized large areas of Iraq last
summer. Insurgents in Egypt's strategic Sinai Peninsula also have
pledged to the group, while another purported affiliate in Yemen
claimed a series of suicide bombings in March that killed at least 137
people. On Saturday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani blamed an affiliate
in his country for an attack on a bank branch in the country's east
that killed 35 people and wounded 125. An affiliate also operates in

However, it remains unclear what kind of central command-and-control
structure the Islamic State group operates.

"The Islamic State in Libya is still focused on this consolidation
phase of announcing its presence through these very high-profile
executions," said Frederic Wehrey, a senior associate for the Middle
East Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. "But
they face some structural limits in terms of how much local support
they can get because they haven't captured real revenue streams."

Meanwhile Sunday, the U.S.-led coalition said Kurdish forces
recaptured 11 villages in Iraq's Kirkuk province from the Islamic
State group following days of intense clashes. The coalition said the
area of about 25 square miles (65 square kilometers) was south of the
city of Kirkuk.

The coalition also said Sunday that Iraqi forces had full control over
the country's Beiji oil refinery, the nation's largest. Islamic State
group fighters had been targeting it for days in attacks and briefly
held a small portion of the sprawling complex.

In Anbar province, the extremists recently captured three villages
near the city of Ramadi and remain locked in heavy clashes with Iraqi
troops. More than 90,000 people have fled the militant's advance
there, a United Nations humanitarian agency said.

"Our top priority is delivering life-saving assistance to people who
are fleeing -- food, water and shelter are highest on the list of
priorities," said Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for
Iraq. "Seeing people carrying what little they can and rushing for
safety is heart-breaking."

Iraqi troops backed by Shiite militias and U.S.-led airstrikes managed
to dislodge the Islamic State group from the northern city of Tikrit
earlier this month. But the troops have struggled against the
militants in Anbar, which saw some of the heaviest fighting of the
eight-year U.S. military occupation that ended in 2011.

The Associated Press contributed to this report
Received on Sun Apr 19 2015 - 22:22:23 EDT

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