ISIS Video Purports to Show Execution of Christian Men in Libya
Security experts concerned about expansion of ISIS into Libya.
— -- A video released today by a group claiming allegiance to ISIS purports to show the beheading of a group of Coptic Christian men who were kidnapped in Libya last month.
The horrific 5-minute video is evidence of ISIS' continued expansion from the terrorist group's "caliphate" from Syria and Iraq into neighboring regions.
The group, Tripoli Province, claimed it had kidnapped the men and published three pictures of them on January 12.
In the video, a group of men in orange jumpsuits are led along a beach, each accompanied by a masked militant. As the men in the jumpsuits kneel, one of the militants speaks to the camera in English, and then all of the kneeling men are beheaded.
After the release of the video, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi banned all travel by Egyptian citizens to Libya, promised to evacuate all Egyptians who are currently in the country.
He also said he would send his foreign minister to New York, calling for an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting about how to respond to ISIS actions in Libya.
The White House issued a statement tonight saying it condemns the "despicable and cowardly murder," offering condolences to the families of the men and support to Egypt.
"ISIL's barbarity knows no bounds," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said. "It is unconstrained by faith, sect, or ethnicity. This wanton killing of innocents is just the most recent of the many vicious acts perpetrated by ISIL-affiliated terrorists against the people of the region, including the murders of dozens of Egyptian soldiers in the Sinai, which only further galvanizes the international community to unite against ISIL."
Counter-terrorism officials have expressed deep concern about ISIS asserting itself in Libya, where the U.S. is still reeling from the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on a diplomatic post in Benghazi that killed four Americans, including the U.S. Ambassador to Libya.
"They pretty much own Libya," an official involved in counter-terrorism operations told ABC News recently. "We have zero collection there and zero authorities there."
Another official referred to aspirational ISIS-produced maps showing their black jihadi flag representing the caliphate -- which was declared last summer by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi -- enveloping much of the Middle East, Europe and North Africa and obliterating traditional borders. Their broad ambition is being realized in certain areas, the official said.