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2015 kidnapping and beheading of Copts in Libya

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On February 12, 2015, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) released a report in their online magazine Dabiq showing photos of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian construction workers that they had kidnapped in the city of Sirte, Libya, and whom they threatened to kill to "avenge the [alleged] kidnapping of Muslim women by the Egyptian Coptic Church".[3] The men, who came from different villages in Egypt, 13 of them from Al-Our, Minya Governorate,[4] were kidnapped in Sirte in two separate attacks on December 27, 2014, and in January 2015.[5] This was not the first time that Egyptians in Libya have been the subject of abuse for political reasons, a pattern that goes back to the 1950s.[6]

21 martyrs of libya
Born one of them from Ghana; other 20 Martyrs from Egypt
Died 15 February 2015[1]
Sirte, Libya[2]
Venerated in Coptic Orthodox Church

Earlier in 2014, a militia group in eastern Libya declared its affiliation with ISIL, it then took over parts of Derna in late 2014. People allied to the group claimed responsibility for attacks across the country, including the Corinthia Hotel attack in January 2015.[7][8]



On February 15 a five-minute video was published, showing the beheading of the captives on a beach along the southern Mediterranean coast. A caption in the video called the captives the "people of the cross, followers of the hostile Egyptian Church".[5] In the video, the leader/speaker was dressed in camouflage, while the others were dressed in black. He declared in North-American English:

Oh people, recently you've seen us on the hills of Al-Sham [Greater Syria] and on Dabiq's Plain, chopping off the heads that had been carrying the cross delusion for a long time, filled with spite against Islam and Muslims, and today we… are sending another message: Oh crusaders, safety for you will be only wishes especially when you're fighting us all together, therefore we will fight you all together until the war lays down its burdens and Jesus peace be upon him will descend, breaking the cross, killing the swine. The sea you've hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden's body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.[9]

After beheading the hostages, a message appears on the screen: "The filthy blood is just some of what awaits you, in revenge for Camelia and her sisters"[9][10] (referencing Camelia Shehata, a Coptic Egyptian woman and wife of a Coptic priest who Islamists believe had converted to Islam and was detained by the Coptic Church because of it. She later denied the claim). Finally the speaker declares "We will conquer Rome, by Allah’s permission," pointing his knife toward the sea.[8] As in other ISIL videos, the captives wore orange jumpsuits, intended as a reference to the attire of prisoners in the Guantanamo Bay detention camp.[8] The group of killers identified itself in the video as the "Tripoli Province" of ISIL.[8] The leader of the squad performing the killings was identified as a Libyan expatriate who goes by the nom de guerre Al Qaqa'a Ben Omro.[11]

The Coptic Church of Egypt, Egyptian government, as well as the Libyan parliament,[12] confirmed the deaths.

Following the release of the video, several experts argued that it had been digitally manipulated and that the actual murders were likely filmed in front of a green screen and then superimposed onto the footage of the beach. The videos were manipulated to show the militants as being seven feet tall in order to propagate fear. Although there were manipulations done to the video, experts confirm that the 21 Christians were killed.[13]

Later, when one of the perpetrators of the operation was arrested, he admitted in the investigation that the slaughter had taken place the beach opposite Al Mahary Hotel in Sirte.[14][15][16][17][18]


The President of Egypt Abdel Fattah el-Sisi announced a seven-day period of national mourning and called for an urgent meeting with the country's top security body.[19] In a televised address, al-Sisi declared his country reserved the right for retaliation.[8] He also reiterated an offer to facilitate Egyptians’ evacuation from Libya and imposed a travel ban on citizens to Libya.[8] Al-Azhar also condemned the incident.[20] The killings were also addressed particularly by the United Nations Security Council, French President François Hollande and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.[21][22] Roman Catholic Pope Francis telephoned Coptic Pope Tawadros II to offer his condolences. At an ecumenical meeting with the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Francis stated "They only said 'Jesus help me ...' The blood of our Christian brothers is testimony that cries out. Be they Catholic, Orthodox, Copts, Lutherans, it doesn't matter: They're Christian!"[23] The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary provided financial support of €500 for each families of the victims. Péter Szijjártó said "Hungary cannot be a bystander of the continuous attacks against Christian communities in the Middle East".[24] The Obama administration was criticized for referring to the victims simply as ‘‘Egyptian citizens’’ rather than Christians, the express reason for their murder.[25]

Egyptian airstrikesEdit

On February 16 at dawn Egyptian military conducted airstrikes on ISIL facilities in Libya.[5] The airstrikes targeted ISIL training locations and weapons stockpiles.[26] All military aircraft returned safely to base.[26] Libyan air force also conducted strikes in Derna, occupied by an ISIL affiliate since 2014.[26] About 40–50 militants and 7 civilians were reportedly killed.[26][27]

Canonized as saintsEdit

On February 21, 2015 the pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church, Pope Tawadros II announced that the 21 murdered Copts would be commemorated as martyr saints on the 8th Amshir of the Coptic calendar, which is February 15 of the Gregorian calendar. The commemoration falls on the feast day of the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.[28]

Video viewsEdit

The film producer Safwat Ghattas commented that the video was produced with a high professionalism. He was subjected to proofs more than once in their entry and bowing at the same time, and that there is more than one camera was used. [26] Notes on the video Some video commentators and commentators made reference to some of the observations on the video which raised some conclusions: [27]

 The wearing of the watch by the left hand: The person who speaks in the video was observed wearing the latest watches in the left hand (Rolex), while all jihadist movements prohibit wearing anything in the left hand to avoid imitating the Jews. [28]
   Daggers where daggers from the American Columbia brand are used by the US military.
   The physical structure of the fighters is very tall and tall, who appear in close sizes, like a well-trained squad. [28]
   Previous photos of the recording: The organization had published pictures in the magazine Dabak, issued by a spokesman in English, last Thursday of the hijackers at the time, and everyone thought that the crime has not yet been implemented. According to experts, the reason for not announcing the crime is the desire to carry out "a process of camouflage and deception of the Egyptian state to ensure coverage of the act of execution and try to erase all possible evidence behind them." [28]
   (... sword sword of the worlds ...): note that this word and the word sword is not a literature sermons in Islam.
   Modern English.
   Very fluent in English.
   High level translation.
   The director's voice is clearly heard at 3:28, ordering the "evocative actors" to start the execution in English. Where experts see that addressing the director of the elements in English, indicates that they are not from Libya, and confirms that most of the fighters in Libya in the presence of foreign mercenaries.

21st martyrEdit

After the beheadings, the Coptic Orthodox church released their names, but there were only 20 names. In the video, the leader's victim was Black, in contrast to the others, who were ethnic Copts. It was later learned that the 21st martyr was named Mathew Ayairga and that he was from Chad. He was not originally a Christian, but he saw the immense faith of the others, and when the terrorists asked him if he rejected Jesus, he reportedly said, "Their God is my God", knowing that he would be martyred.[29][30]

Other sources spell his name as Matthew Ayariga and say that he was from Ghana.[31][32][33][34][35][36][37]


Bishoy Adel Khalaf Samuel Alhoam Wilson Hany Abdel-Masih Salib
Melad McCain Zaky Abanoub Ayad Attia Ezzat Bushra Nassif
Yousef Shokry Younan Kirillos Shukry Fawzy Majid Suleiman Shehata
Somali Stéphanos Kamel Malak Ibrahim Siniot Bishoy Stéphanos Kamel
Mena Fayez Aziz Girgis Melad Siniot Tawadros Youssef Tawadros
Essam Badr Samir Luke Ngati Jaber Mounir Adly
Malak Faraj Abram Sameh Salah Farouk Matthew Irigia [38][39]


See alsoEdit


  1. ^لماذا-اعتمد-المجمع-المقدس-15-فبراير-عيد-ا-لشهداء-الكنيسة-
  2. ^
  3. ^ El-Gundy, Zeinab (12 February 2015). "Islamic State publishes report on Coptic Egyptian workers kidnapped in Libya". Al-Ahram. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  4. ^ "Thousands mourn Egyptian victims of Islamic State in disbelief". Reuters. 16 Feb 2015. Retrieved 26 Feb 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "ISIL video shows Christian Egyptians beheaded in Libya". Al Jazeera. 16 Feb 2015. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015. 
  6. ^ Tsourapas, Gerasimos (17 March 2015). "The Politics of Egyptian Migration to Libya | Middle East Research and Information Project". Retrieved 2016-11-03. 
  7. ^ "Islamic State takes Libyan city; 100K under terror group's control as chaos spreads - Washington Times". The Washingtion Times. 
  8. ^ a b c d e f Jared Malsin (February 15, 2015). "Beheading of Coptic Christians in Libya Shows ISIS Branching Out". Time. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015. 
  9. ^ a b Ahram Online: "Video shows beheading of Copts at IS hands; Egypt declares week of mourning" 15 Feb 2015
  10. ^ Raman Media network: "ISIS Video Shows Mass Beheading of Christian Hostages" by Rakash Raman February 16, 2015
  11. ^ "اليزل: الجهات الأمنية كشفت شخصية 'القعقاع بن عمرو' قائد مذبحة المصريين". Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  12. ^ Mahmoud Mostafa (February 14, 2015). "Libyan parliament confirms death of 21 kidnapped Coptic Egyptians". Daily News Egypt. Archived from the original on February 15, 2015. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015. 
  13. ^ "ISIS' Does ISIS really have SEVEN-FOOT tall executioners?". 
  14. ^ "ليبيا.. اعترافات مثيرة للشاهد على ذبح الأقباط". (in Arabic). Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  15. ^ "«البنيان المرصوص» تكشف التفاصيل الكاملة لذبح الأقباط المصريين في ليبيا". 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  16. ^ "داعشى يعترف بالتفاصيل الكاملة لاغتيال المصريين فى سرت الليبية بعد القبض عليه.. الإرهابى أبو عامر الجزراوى قاد المجموعة المجرمة.. وعناصر من تونس وليبيا شاركت فى الجريمة النكراء.. والسلطات تستخرج رفات الضحايا - اليوم السابع". اليوم السابع (in Arabic). 2017-10-07. Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  17. ^ "بالصور.. التفاصيل الكاملة لقصة ذبح الأقباط المصريين في سرت الليبية". إرم نيوز‬‎ (in Arabic). Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  18. ^ "بعد العثور على رفات الضحايا.. تفاصيل ذبح المصريين بليبيا". البوابة نيوز. Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  19. ^ "Islamic State: Egyptian Christians held in Libya 'killed'". BBC. 15 February 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  20. ^ "Egyptian Church confirms 21 killed in Libya after Islamic State issues video". Reuters. 15 February 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  21. ^ "Мировые лидеры осудили расправу ИГ над египтянами" (in Russian). 16 February 2015. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  22. ^ "President Mohamed Abdelaziz extends condolences to Egyptian counterpart". Sahara Press Service. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 26 February 2015. 
  23. ^ "Pope Francis: ISIS killing of Coptic Christians "barbaric"". CBS News. Associated Press. 16 February 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015. 
  24. ^ "The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade provides financial aid for the families of the brutally killed Egyptian Christians". Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary. 17 February 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2015. 
  25. ^ New York Times: "Is This the End of Christianity in the Middle East? - ISIS and other extremist movements across the region are enslaving, killing and uprooting Christians, with no aid in sight" By ELIZA GRISWOLD JULY 22, 2015 | "Daniel Philpott, a professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, says, ‘‘When ISIS is no longer said to have religious motivations nor the minorities it attacks to have religious identities, the Obama administration’s caution about religion becomes excessive."
  26. ^ a b c d "Egyptian air strikes target Isis weapons stockpiles in Libya". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 Feb 2015. 
  27. ^ "Civilians killed as Egypt launches air strikes in Libya". Al Jazeera. 16 February 2015. 
  28. ^ "Coptic Church Recognizes Martyrdom of 21 Coptic Christians". 21 February 2015. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  29. ^ "21st Martyr". 22 February 2015. Retrieved 17 March 2015. 
  30. ^ "African Man Turns To Christ Moments Before Beheading – BosNewsLife – Christian News Agency". Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  31. ^ "Ghanaian beheaded in Libya?". Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  32. ^ "Libya's Mystery Beach and the 21st Victim - TalkLeft: The Politics Of Crime". Retrieved 30 May 2017. 
  33. ^ "February anniversary of the brutal murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Libya one year ago". 2016-02-12. Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  34. ^ "Ghanaian Christian Among Those Beheaded By ISIS". Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  35. ^ Online., Herald Malaysia. "The bodies of the Coptic Martyrs beheaded by Isis found in Libya". Herald Malaysia Online. Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  36. ^ "Ghanaian beheaded in Libya?". Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  37. ^ "CRISTIANI COPTI DECAPITATI DALL'ISIS/ Sirte, rinvenuti 21 corpi in una fossa comune". Il Retrieved 2018-03-17. 
  38. ^
  39. ^
  40. ^ننشر-أسماء-شهداء-مصر-الـ21-ضحية-إرهاب-داعش-فى-ليبيا/2068977

External linksEdit