Coptic Christian Bishop Anba Ermia called for prayers for the 21 Christians savagely murdered by Islamic State terrorists in Libya. A video released by the Islamic State showed the beheadings of the Coptic Christian men at the seashore as blood was washed into the sea. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has vowed vengeance for the killings. Speaking on television, on February 15, Sisi said that Egypt would choose the time and place to avenge the killings.
 
Some Christians are calling for a ban on the distribution of the horrific video. A Catholic priest, Fr. Joseph Faulkner of Nebraska, posted a list of the names of the martyred men and asked for prayers. He argued in the post that the distribution of the video is precisely the publicity the Muslim terrorists are seeking.   
 
 
Egyptians desperate for work have gone to Libya ever since the so-called Arab Spring of 2011, which saw the overthrow of Egypt’s government and the installation of a Muslim Brotherhood regime. That government was in turn overthrown, and a new government – supported by Egypt’s military and the US – installed. Egyptian President Sisi called for a week of national mourning, following a meeting with his military staff. A statement from the Coptic Church expressed confidence that justice will be served, while Al Azhar University – a center of Muslim religious thought – stated that no religion would accept such "barbaric" acts.
 
Coptic Christians are among the poorest and traditionally most-persecuted people of Egypt. Upon hearing of the beheadings, relatives and friends of the victims in the impoverished southerly Minya Governorate screamed and wailed in their grief.
 
As confirmed by Coptic Church authorities, the identities of the men are as follows:
 
1. Milad Makeen Zaky
2. Abanub Ayad Atiya
3. Maged Solaiman Shehata
4. Yusuf Shukry Yunan
5. Kirollos Shokry Fawzy
6. Bishoy Astafanus Kamel
7. Somaily Astafanus Kamel
8. Malak Ibrahim Sinweet
9.Tawadros Yusuf Tawadros
10. Girgis Milad Sinweet
11. Mina Fayez Aziz
12. Hany Abdelmesih Salib
13. Bishoy Adel Khalaf
14. Samuel Alham Wilson
15. a worker from Awr village
16. Ezat Bishri Naseef
17. Loqa Nagat8. Gaber Munir Adly
19. Esam Badir Samir
20. Malak Farag Abram
21. Sameh Salah Faruq
 
The beheading of Egyptian citizens may cause Egypt to enter more fully into the fray against the Islamic State. IS is seeking to topple Sisi’s government, which is supported by the United States. However, Egypt has so far denied that it has targeted IS, as has the United Arab Emirates, in air strikes against militants based in Libya.  Islamic State terrorists in Libya have contacted a group operating in Egypt's Sinai Peninsula that recently changed its name from Ansar Beyt al-Maqdis and pledged allegiance to the Islamic State.
 
 
The video depicts black-clad terrorists marching the Coptic victims, dressed in orange jump suits similar to those worn by Islamist terrorists imprisoned by the US at Guantanamo, to a beach near Tripoli. The Copts were forced to their knees and decapitated. A caption on the video says, “The people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian church." Also in the video, one of the terrorists held a knife as he said,  "Safety for you crusaders is something you can only wish for."  A terrorist says in the video that the Islamic State is sending its message “from the south of Rome,” and appears later in video to say that IS will “conquer Rome”.
 
IS and its allies have killed hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police since the army toppled Muslim Brotherhood-backed president Mohamed Morsi in 2013 after mass protests against his rule.
 
Egypt appears to be preparing for war: President Francois Hollande of France said recently that Egypt is poised to purchase 24 Rafale fighter jets, a naval frigate and related military equipment in a deal worth more than $5.7 billion.
 
UPDATE: Egypt carried out bombing sorties in Libya on Feb. 15. Egyptian F-16 raids south of the city of Darna yielded dozens of Islamic State dead, as well as several civilians. 


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Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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