Islamic State ramps up its campaign against Christians

Reuters

In the past two months, the transnational Islamic jihadist organisation known as Islamic State (IS) has released three propaganda videos in non-Arabic languages.

On 14 June, IS West Africa Province in Nigeria released a video in Hausa, the largest ethnic/language group in West and Central Africa.

On 1 July, IS in Iraq released a video in Kurdish, which is spoken in Iraqi Kurdistan, north and east Syria, and much of eastern Turkey.

On 30 July, IS in Somalia released a 25-minute video in Amharic, the official language of Ethiopia. The Amharic-language video specifically calls for jihad against Ethiopia's Christians and government.

Then, on 3 August, IS in Khorasan Province (greater Afghanistan) released a fatwa (legal order) calling for attacks on Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Shi'ite places of worship.

Ethiopia

The Amharic video was released just a week after Islamic State forces from Somalia were routed in Ethiopia's eastern Somali region - see RLPB 655 (27 July).

The video – which is entitled 'On the Path of the Conquerors' - includes Arabic subtitles and is narrated by a jihadist named Abu 'Isa Al-Ethiopi. It has been analysed by MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorist Threat Monitor (JTTM). Abu 'Isa opens with a narration on the long 1,400-year struggle between Muslims and 'unbelieving Christians' in the Horn of Africa.

The key take-away is Abu 'Isa's claim that Abyssinian Christians not only reject and resist Islam, but have always hated, persecuted and plotted against Muslims.

He blames 'hypocrite' Muslims (i.e. Muslims who neglect jihad) for the decline of Islam in Ethiopia, saying it was only after the Muslims abandoned jihad in the 17th century that the Christians were able to regain the ascendancy. He laments that today Christians rule Ethiopia and have 'caused people to leave Allah's religion in droves'.

He derides Ethiopia's parliament as a 'parliament of polytheism' and condemns Muslim clerics who support the government as 'apostate clerics'. He then exhorts Ethiopian Muslims to reject humiliation, relocate to Islamic State territory and 'fight for your religion'.

He tells Muslims that if hijrah – migration and permanent settlement – is not possible, then 'wage war on the unbelievers wherever you are'. A trainee jihadist further extends that invitation to all 'the Muslims of East Africa'.

In Nigeria

According to 'The New Arab' (18 June), ISWAP's Hausa-language propaganda video (with Arabic subtitles) calls on Muslims to make 'hijrah' to IS-controlled territory, where IS promises to 'protect' and defend them.

ISWAP is now the strongest Islamic terror/jihadist group in Nigeria. The federal capital, Abuja, is on high alert, especially after the 6 July jail break. On 8 August, IS released a poster in English and Arabic versions titled 'Harvest of African Christians' boasting 13 churches burned, hundreds of homes burned, and 190 Christians killed in June-July 2022 amidst ethno-religious cleansing campaigns in DR Congo, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Cameroon.

Meanwhile, IS in Iraq and Syria is ready to exploit any breach in the already fragile security situation. It is clearly seeking to divide the Kurds and recruit Islamist Kurds into its ranks, which would be catastrophic for Christians in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

In Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asia (Khorasan Province)

On 3 August MEMRI's Jihad and Terrorist Threat Monitor (JTTM) ran the headline: 'Fatwa by Islamic State's Khorasan Province (ISIS-K) Orders Attacks on Places of Worship of Christians, Jews, Hindus...'

The 18-page Pashtu-language fatwa refers to these places of worship as 'Masjid-e-Zarar,' or Mosques of Dissent, in reference to a masjid/mosque (place of prayer) established by a Christian monk named Abu 'Amir al-Rahib, with the backing of Byzantine Emperor Heraclius, for the purpose of subverting Islam and opposing Muhammad. When Muhammad became aware of the plot, he had the masjid burned [see Quran, Sura 9:107-110].

Ever since then, this incident has been used to legitimise the destruction of Christian, Jewish, Hindu and Shi'ite places of worship. After the fatwa was released, attacks on Shi'ite mosques in Kabul began almost immediately.

While the Afghan Church is and has long been an 'underground' Church, the Pakistani Church just over the border is not and never has been 'underground'. As warned in RLPB 632 (9 Feb 2022), 'Peshawar's churches and Christian communities may be more at risk now than at any time in Pakistan's history.'

Please pray

Almighty God, send your heavenly hosts (angelic forces) to watch over and protect all churches and Christian communities at risk of Islamic terror attack. We pray especially for Christian churches and communities in regions where Islamic State is pursuing gains, in particular Nigeria, Iraq and Syria, Ethiopia, and Pakistan (especially Peshawar). Lord, draw your people close, and thwart all evil plots hatched against them.

Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings, from the wicked who do me violence, my deadly enemies who surround me (Psalm chapter 17, verses 8-9 ESV).

Almighty God, intervene to prevent the consolidation and expansion of Islamic State sanctuaries in Nigeria, Iraq and Syria, Somalia and Afghanistan. Lord of Hosts, fight with all who seek to defeat Islamic jihadists; may security be restored.

But my eyes are toward you, O God, my Lord; in you I seek refuge; leave me not defenceless! Keep me from the trap that they have laid for me and from the snares of evildoers! Let the wicked fall into their own nets, while I pass by safely. (Psalm chapter141, verses 8-10 ESV)