A Nigerian offshoot of ISIS on Thursday claimed responsibility for the killing of 11 people, calling the deaths a retaliation for the killing of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in northern Syria two months ago, according to The New York Times.
The group released video Thursday of members cutting 10 people’s throats and shooting an 11th person, with a voice-over calling the killings a “message for Christians,” although Nigerian experts told the Times that based on the group’s previous tactics, some of its victims were likely Muslims.
The group, the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), split off from the terrorist group Boko Haram in 2016, citing issues with the group’s violence against other Muslims, according to the Times, but the group has likely been under increased pressure to publicly retaliate for al-Baghdadi’s death as other branches and affiliates have done.
“I think there’s a demand from IS Central: ‘ISWAP, where is your submission for revenge for Baghdadi?’” Abdulbasit Kassim, a co-author of “The Boko Haram Reader: From Nigerian Preachers to the Islamic State,” told the Times.
Kassim added that ISWAP is likely attempting to both assuage the broader Islamic State and extract concessions and ransom from the Nigerian government.
“Those who you see in front of us are Christians, and we will shed their blood as revenge for the two dignified sheikhs, the caliph of the Muslims, and the spokesman for the Islamic State, Sheikh Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, may Allah accept them,” a man depicted committing the killings says in the video. The man in the video made reference to an ISIS spokesman reportedly killed shortly after al-Baghdadi.
“These barbaric killers don’t represent Islam and millions of other law-abiding Muslims around the world,” Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said in a statement following the release of the video.
“We are appalled by the vicious ISIS-West Africa attack targeting Christians in Nigeria,” tweeted Tibor Nagy, the top State Department official for Africa policy.
We urge the Government of Nigeria to swiftly bring to justice those responsible for this heinous terrorist attack. (2/2)
— Tibor Nagy (@AsstSecStateAF) December 27, 2019
President TrumpDonald John TrumpNorth Korea holds political conference before year-end concessions deadline set for US Gabbard says impeachment will only ’embolden’ Trump Warren: ‘If there’s a lawful order for a subpoena, I assume’ Biden would comply MORE announced the killing of al-Baghdadi in Syria’s Idlib province in October, saying the ISIS leader detonated a suicide vest during a raid by U.S. forces. ISIS announced Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi had been named his successor later that month.
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