Martyred in Nigeria—5 Christians executed by Islamic terrorist group

January 8, 2021 by Lindy Lowry in Africa

Only a few days after celebrating Christmas together with their church, five of our Christian brothers in northeast Nigeria have been slaughtered for their faith in Christ.

A video posted on December 30 by the Islamic State group’s media channel Amaq reportedly shows the execution of the men after they mention each man by name and identify them as “Christians.” The horrific image is a tragic reminder of February 12, 2015, when the world watched in horror as 21 Christian men were sent to their knees and martyred by ISIS on the Libyan Coast—all captured on a triumphant video released by the Islamic State group.

This recent execution is reportedly meant as a warning to Christians, said Illia Djadi, Open Doors’ Senior Analyst for Freedom of Religion or Belief in sub-Saharan Africa. “Think of the beheading of the Coptic Christians by Islamic State on a Libyan beach in February 2015 … it’s the same scenario,” he said.

In Christmas Eve attacks on multiple Nigerian villages, members of the terrorist group Islamic State West African Province (ISAWP)—a break-away faction of Boko Haram that has affiliated with the Islamic State group—kidnapped the men from the predominantly Christian town of Garkida in Adamawa state.

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During the attack on Garkida, at least two more people, including a 5 year old, were killed while many others fled and spent the night in the mountains. The largest church denomination in the region, the EYN, on its Facebook page posted photos of people returning to their homes the next day.

Djadi noted that filmed executions are part of an organized communication strategy of Islamic terrorist groups. Boko Haram, he said, uses the same strategy. The timing is also not coincidental, as groups know that attacks during Christian holidays like Christmas and Easter attract media.

“It is part of the communication strategy of Islamist groups, and Boko Haram is using the same strategy where also the timing is not co-incidental. The Christmas period is important because of the media attention an attack will attract and so Christians can expect to be targeted during this time,” Djadi said.

After the attack on Garkida, militants moved on to other villages in the area, destroying and looting properties and tragically killing at least 10 more people.Open Doors previously reported that Islamist militants also targeted other predominantly Christian villages in Nigeria’s northeast, in Adamawa and southern Borno state. On Christmas eve they stormed Pemi, a town in Borno state, where they killed at least 11 people, abducted seven believers, including a pastor, and burned houses and the church.

“They directly attacked those communities,” Djadi explained. “Don’t forget, these groups want to establish a caliphate, Islamic law. Christians are their primary target.”

Call to prayer

Open Doors is calling on the worldwide Church to stand with the families of these men and so many others killed, attacked and traumatized by these terrorist groups.

Father, we pray for our sisters and our brothers who have suffered so much because they follow you. We pray they will be courageous in their mourning and have the grace to trust the Lord to fulfill His purposes with their sacrifice. And we pray for Your children who continue life under the renewed onslaught of Boko Haram and ISWAP. Show us how we can help Christians remain firm in the faith and constant in hope despite the challenges.

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