A video titled “A Message Signed With Blood to the Nation of the Cross” was released last Sunday by the Islamic State. More than a dozen Egyptian Christians were beheaded on the coast of the Mediterranean sea in Libya. What distinguishes this video is that is was the first released outside of Syria and Iraq, the central settings of the IS movement. These beheadings have stirred disgust and anger on an international scale.
This video referenced the American military burying Osama bin Laden’s body in the sea. The speaking executioner said, “The sea you’ve hidden Sheikh Osama bin Laden’s body in, we swear to Allah we will mix it with your blood.” The executions take place by the water to illustrate the source of their anger and the intensity with which they carry out their mission.
President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, considers the executions in Libya a threat to Egyptian security. Libya sits directly west of Egypt, and the close border interaction between the countries likely allowed the executions to occur. According to a New York Times article titled “Islamic State Video Shows Beheadings of Egyptian Christians in Libya,” Egyptians “routinely travel across the border to Libya to find work in its oil-rich economy, forging a deep connection between the two neighboring states.” When writers David Kirkpatick and Rukmini Callimachi comment on Libya’s “internationally recognized government,” we can’t help but to wonder about the political stability of the region.
To establish peace, it cannot be helpful to have a rogue, militant government that claims it has sovereignty when another “internationally recognized” government claims to do the same. It has become clear that the forces waging these battles have a tenuous formation. It has also become clear that, as the Islamic State’s influence has expanded geographically, the extremist group’s “theatrical brutality” won’t be stopping anytime soon. As of Monday, Feb. 16, Egypt has responded to the beheadings with airstrikes “against training camps and arms depots of Islamic State in Libya.” International forces are assembling in the name of a political, religious and cultural battle. Obama wants to initiate military action against the IS threat, and Egypt is attempting to strengthen its borders and security.
We need to pay more attention to this ongoing story. One significant benefit of living in the United States is that we have (relatively) accessible media. We can learn about the events of the world even if it’s happening miles away from us. That said, the media needs to report on this issue with tenacity and accuracy, mainly accuracy. The IS threat will not go away anytime soon, and as more countries involve themselves, or become involved with the threat, the more prevalent the threat will be in all of our lives.