A Coptic Christian and two tribesmen in Egypt's Sinai have been executed, according to claims made by an Islamic State (IS)-affiliated group via a video posted on its Telegram channel. Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church mourned the death of Nabil Habashy Salama, who was executed in North Sinai's Bir El-Abd, a city that has witnessed several deadly terrorist attacks and army raids on terror hotbeds.
According to local media reports, Habashy's execution comes as a result of his cooperation with the Egyptian army. An ISIS speaker also mentioned that the 62-year old was executed because he was a rebel and anyone found repeating the same will also meet with similar fate.
The Coptic Orthodox Church mourned Habashy's execution in a statement as a "faithful son and servant" who "adhered to his religion till death." According to the church, Habashy had been held captive by terrorist militias for over five months. Reports claim that he was also brutally tortured during this time.
The 13-minute video released late Saturday, shows the 62-year-old Habashy being shot dead at point-blank range by a militant flanked by two others carrying rifles. Habashy can be seen kneeling while militants stood behind him. He then falls dead after the shot.
In a message to "all crusaders in the world," the militants said "As you kill, you will be killed, and as you capture, you will be captured." In their message to Copts in Egypt, they said the Egyptian military "will not get you anywhere."
The militants also threatened in the video saying that the military has a "long bill" to pay, vowing to go to war against the army, especially in Sinai. Addressing people who support the army and calling them "apostates," they said the army "cannot even protect itself, oh fools, we have come to you with cut-throats."
Almost at War
The Coptic Church makes up between 10 and 15 percent of Egypt's population of over 100 million. The church voiced its full solidarity with the state in "countering the hateful acts of terrorism" although ISIS continues to terrorize the entire region.
"We pay tribute to our heroes of the Egyptian armed forces and police and offer our condolences to the family of the martyr, praying for the sake of our country's peace and prosperity," the statement from the Coptic Church read.
Habashy had earlier appeared in an ISIS video before his execution wherein he said that had been held captive in ISIS's Sinai Province for around 3 months and 11 days. He said he contributed to building the Church of Virgin Mary in Bir El-Abd, asserting that the church is cooperating with the army and the intelligence service in the war against ISIS, which led to his eventual execution.
Following the release of the video, Habashy's daughter, Marina Nabil, wrote on Facebook "I will miss you, my father. You made us proud during your life with your virtues and in your martyrdom with your strong faith."
Bir El-Abd has been attacked by ISIS for years now. In 2017, Bir El-Abd witnessed the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt's modern history, when ISIS attacked Muslim worshippers in Al-Rawdah mosque, killing over 300 people, including children.
In 2020, Egypt's Interior Ministry said police killed 18 terrorists in a shootout in Bir El-Abd. This came days after ISIS claimed responsibility for an attack in which 10 Egyptian military personnel were killed or wounded in the same area.
Most attacks have been staged in the Sinai Peninsula but they have also used the territory as a launchpad to strike elsewhere in Egypt.