This won’t end well. US officials acknowledged yesterday that ISIS affiliates in Libya seized a caravan attempting to move Christians out of the failed state, and now hold 88 hostages. Their intended destination was Tripoli, but it was their origin that may have flagged them to ISIS:
A group of Christians are among the 86 Eritrean refugees, including women and children, who’ve been kidnapped by terror group ISIS in Libya. The kidnapping comes less than two months after 28 Ethiopian Christian were executed by the terror group.
The Stockholm-based International Commission on Eritrean Refugees reported on Sunday that the captives were taken last week, following an ambush by the jihadists on a vehicle traveling to Tripoli.
There is still some confusion over the exact number of people kidnapped by ISIS. Most were men, but more than a dozen were women and children:
Most of the kidnapped come from one city in Eritrea, Adi Keih, which is known for its opposition to the regime.
“IS militants asked everyone who is Muslim or not and everybody started saying they are Muslims. But you have to know the Koran, and they didn’t,” Estefanos said, citing eyewitnesses who managed to escape.
The kidnaping and persecution of Christians in failed states like Libya and Iraq are well-known stories by now, but the reach of ISIS in Libya may surprise some. When a video emerged of ISIS beheading Egyptian Christians on the shore of Libya earlier this year, the location was chalked up to the Wild West atmosphere of a failed state, not significant control over territory. This emerging story suggests more command and control than many have credited ISIS with establishing there. If they are patrolling caravan routes for “regime” opponents, that looks less like a local militia with ISIS aspirations than it does an affiliate with some established operations.
What will happen to these Christians? The terrorists will undoubtedly attempt forced conversions, but failing that we can expect enslavement, extortion, and more propaganda videos to energize their bloodthirsty minions. Without an effective strategy to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria, it’s unlikely that any pressure will be put on its affiliates in Libya in the near future — certainly not in time to help these captured Christians.
Extortion has been an important revenue stream for ISIS, but it’s not the only one they’ve managed to innovate. The capture of priceless archaeological sites and museums has threatened to destroy millenia of civilization’s history, but ISIS hasn’t just demolished the treasures it seizes. Increasingly, they use them for fundraisers, as CNN reports:
The Washington Post has more, including just how much material ISIS now controls:
The Islamic State has defended its destruction of cultural artifacts by saying they are idolatrous and represent pre-Islamic cultures. Behind the scenes, though, the group’s looting has become so systematic that the Islamic State has incorporated the practice into the structure of its self-
declared caliphate, granting licenses for digging at historic sites through a department of “precious resources.” …
The extremist group’s recent capture of Syria’s majestic 2,000-year-old ruins at Palmyra threw a spotlight on the risk that the Islamic State poses to the region’s rich cultural heritage. It is, however, just one of 4,500 sites under the group’s control, according to the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force.
“They steal everything that they can sell, and what they can’t sell, they destroy,” said Qais Hussein Rasheed, Iraq’s deputy minister for antiquities and heritage.
That’s their approach to human beings, too. They steal whatever is handy, sell what they can, and destroy the rest in the most gruesome manner they can devise. This is an enemy the likes of which the world has not seen for ages, and the world still has not come to grips with what it will really take to defeat it.