A group affiliated with Daesh has claimed responsibility for the execution of an elderly Coptic Christian in Egypt, according to a video posted on its Telegram channel. Two members of a local tribe in the Sinai Peninsula were also killed.
In the video released over the weekend, 62-year-old Nabil Habashy Salama said that he had been held captive by the Wilayat Sinai group for over three months. He added that his "crime" was building the only church in Bier El-Abd in North Sinai, and that the Coptic Church "support and collaborate with the army" in its fight against Daesh. He was then killed with a single shot to the back of his head. Two young tribesmen were also seen being killed in the barren desert landscape.
Praying repose for #NabilHabashySalama, kidnapped by Islamists in Egypt in January, and video of his senseless, brutal execution and murder released today. Nabil's crime was to build a church in North Sinai. #RIP
— Archbishop Angaelos (@BishopAngaelos) April 18, 2021
"He kept the faith till the moment he was killed… The church affirms its steadfast support of the Egyptian state's efforts in quelling hateful terror acts," said the Coptic authorities.
In a message to "all crusaders in the world" the extremists said, "As you kill, you will be killed, and as you capture, you will be captured." They warned Egypt's Copts that supporting the military "will not get you anywhere."
The Wilayat Sinai or "Sinai Province" is the most active terrorist group in Egypt. It was formed in 2011 as Ansar Bayt Al-Maqdis before pledging its allegiance to Daesh's so-called Islamic State in 2014.
In February 2018, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ordered the military to defeat the militant group, leading to a large-scale counterterrorism offensive in the restive Sinai Peninsula. However, the operations have led to the demolition of the homes and livelihoods of the local population, causing thousands to be displaced.
Last month, Human Rights Watch (HWR) said that the army's continuing house demolitions and forced evictions are violations of international humanitarian law and probably amount to war crimes.