- A member of the group’s media group said the massacre was in revenge of the deaths of their leader and spokesman.
- President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killers, describing them as "remorseless, godless, callous gangs of mass murderers that have given Islam a bad name."
- ISWAP split from Nigerian armed group Boko Haram in 2016.
The Islamic State of West Africa Province (ISWAP) brutally executed a group of its hostages, most of whom were Christians. ISWAP released a 56-second video produced by “news agency” Telegram, claiming to show the killing of eleven Christians in Nigeria. In the footage, a captive in the middle is shot dead while the rest are pushed to the ground and beheaded. ISWAP said that it spared two of its captives. The video was released on December 26, and analysts say it was appropriately timed to coincide with Christmas celebrations. Another video circulated early this month that showed the group pleading for help.
A member of the group’s media group said the massacre was in revenge of the deaths of their leader and spokesman. They said, “we killed them as a revenge for the killings of our leaders including Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and Abu-Hassan al-Muhajir in Iraq and Syria.” ISIL leader al-Baghdadi committed suicide in October to avoid capture during a raid by United States Special Forces on his hideout in the province of Idlib, northwestern Syria. On December 22, IS declared a new militant campaign to “avenge” their deaths, and has since claimed a number of attacks in various countries under the banner of that campaign.
President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killers, describing them as “remorseless, godless, callous gangs of mass murderers that have given Islam a bad name through their atrocities.” He called for unity among Nigeria’s Christians and Muslims. “These agents of darkness are enemies of our common humanity, and they don’t spare any victim, whether they are Muslims or Christians.”
The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres offered his condolences to the families of the victims. “The Secretary General is deeply concerned about reports that civilians have been executed and other abducted by armed group in northern Borno state, northeastern Nigeria,” said his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric. “He expressed his deepest condolences to the families of the victims and reiterates the solidarity of the United Nations with the people and government of Nigeria.”
ISWAP split from Nigerian armed group Boko Haram in 2016. In recent months, ISWAP has intensified its attacks on Christians, security personnel, and aid workers, setting roadblocks on main roads and conducting searches. The horrific attacks come after Boko Haram jihadists killed seven people on Christmas Eve.
Dozens of fighters driving trucks and motorcycles shot fleeing residents and burned homes after looting food and supplies. “They killed seven people and abducted a teenage girl in the attack,” local vigilante David Brutus said. “They took away food stuff and burnt many houses before leaving,” he added revealing that a church was also burned.
The group attacked a Christian village near the town of Chibok, in Borno state, where more than two hundred female students were abducted by Boko Haram in 2014. The abduction sparked global outrage and drew international attention to the group’s activities. Troops have been stationed in Chibok since the kidnapping, but the Boko Haram jihadists still have carried out deadly attacks in the area.