DAKAR, Senegal – A member of the Islamic State in Nigeria has taken responsibility for the execution of eleven people, claiming the murders are retribution for the death of IS Leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in Syria in October.
A video released on Thursday showed how members of the Nigerian member cut the throats of 10 people and shot another person. A voiceover says that the killings are a "message for Christians" and that all those killed are Christians, although Nigerian experts said some of them are likely to be Muslims, based on previous episodes in which the group was involved.
The Islamic The state, or IS, has lost all of the territory it once owned in Iraq and Syria, but it remains a threat, even after Mr. al-Baghdadi was raided on his hiding place in northwest Syria was killed. In addition to the subsidiary in Nigeria, known as the Islamic State of West Africa, groups in the Philippines, Afghanistan, Sinai and the Sahel, a 3,000-mile stretch of land south of the Sahara, also claim loyalty to ISIS.
The members of the Islamic State of West Africa, known by the acronym ISWAP, left the Islamic militant group Boko Haram in 2016. According to the International Crisis Group, it has between 3,500 and 5,000 fighters. The leaders partially split off from Boko Haram for disapproving of the violence that the group and its strict leader, Abubakar Shekau, had done to Muslims, analysts said.
The executions could mean a possible return to Islam, according to experts, tougher methods by Boko Haram.
Abdulbasit Kassim, co-author of "The Boko Haram Reader: From Nigerian Preachers to the Islamic State," said other Islamic provinces have released revenge videos for killing Mr. al-Baghdadi. Mr. Kassim said there was a strong possibility that ISWAP was under pressure to do the same.
“I think there is a demand from IS Central: 'ISWAP, where is your demand for revenge for Bagdadi? & # 39; “, he said Mr. Kassim, referring to the main part of the Islamic State. He added that he believed ISWAP was doing two types of propaganda, one to get ransom from the Nigerian government and one to meet the demands of the Islamic State.
publishes information about ISWAP and Boko Haram. According to Salkida, the ISWAP had shown interest in negotiating a prisoner exchange, but abruptly changed course and executed the prisoners instead.
The 56-second video shows the blindfolded prisoners and orange coats kneeling on the ground and their kidnappers standing behind them in black balaclavas.
A fighter in the middle lifts a pistol and shoots the prisoner in the head in front of him. The video shows the fighters standing behind the other 10 prisoners. The fighters hold onto their faces or hair and cut their throats.
In the version of the New York Times video released on Amaq, an IS propaganda arm, a man speaks about the
"This message is aimed at Christians in the world, ”he says in Arabic and Nigerian, according to the Washington-based SITE Intelligence Group, which tracks down jihadists and white supremacists. "Those you see before us are Christians, and we will shed their blood in revenge for the two worthy sheikhs, the Muslim caliph, and the spokesman for the Islamic State, Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, Allah takes them on. “
One day after the death of Mr. Baghdadi, who was regarded as a caliph by his followers, the man who was probably his successor, Mr. al-Muhajir, the group's spokesman, was killed in 1941 separate raid.
Aaron Zelin, a staff member of the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy, said: “IS tries to make headlines during the holidays when there is usually not much new. “
The State Department condemned the attacks. "We are appalled by the malicious attack by ISIS and West Africa on Christians in Nigeria," said Tibor Nagy, chief foreign minister for Africa policy at the State Department, in a Twitter message.
President Muhammadu Buhari of Nigeria said in a statement, "These barbaric killers do not represent Islam and millions of law-abiding Muslims around the world."
Violence has increased in northeastern Nigeria in the past year, and particularly in the past six years, Antonio Canhandula, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, said this week that he was contributing to a deteriorating humanitarian situation and set up armed groups checkpoints to attack and kidnap civilians. The Islamic state, which is plagued by armed groups of militants, claimed responsibility for an attack on seven soldiers led by ISWAP fighters on Tuesday 459001.
] Tens of thousands of civilians, most of them Muslim, have been killed in three northeastern states of Nigeria by Islamist militants and Nigerian security forces since 2009.
Ruth Maclean reported from Dakar and Eric Schmitt from New York.