ISIS has apparently released a new video, purportedly showing the beheadings of 35 Ethiopian Christians in Libya.
“Muslim blood shed under the hands of your religions is not cheap,” a masked terrorist says in the footage, which was uploaded on YouTube for a period of time on Sunday. “To the nation of the cross: We are now back again.” The man has a notable North American accent.
The video sparked international outcry, including condemnation from the White House.
The video, similar to one uploaded by ISIS-affiliated militants in February, shows militants leading groups of men down the beach. The groups of Ethiopian men who were shot and beheaded are referred to as “worshipers of the cross belonging to the hostile Ethiopian church” in the video’s subtitles.
In the video, the masked terrorist then says Christians have to convert to Islam or pay a tax as stipulated in the Koran. “You will not have safety even in your dreams, until you accept Islam,” he adds. “Our battle is a battle between faith and blasphemy, between truth and falsehood.”
The half-hour-long video also shows ISIS militants destroying churches, icons, and graves.
After ISIS released a video in February showing the beheadings of 21 Coptic Christians, Egypt’s military launched airstrikes on targets said to be held by the terrorist organization. It’s unclear if Ethiopia will take similar measures.
It has been speculated that the terrorist with the North American accent in the recent ISIS video is the same person who spoke in the February video.
Professor Erik Thomas, who is a linguistics expert at North Carolina State University, told ABC News in February that the man “sounds like an American” with some Arabic influence.
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.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.