Terrorist Attacks on Christians Mount Around the World

Attacks over the last two years have led to some Christians demonstrating their faith in public (EPA)
Attacks over the last two years have led to some Christians demonstrating their faith in public (EPA)

Several of the world’s worst terrorist groups, like ISIS and Al-Shabaab, aim to create societies governed by strict, distorted versions of Sharia law.

That means anyone who doesn’t subscribe to such extremist views are enemies and in danger — Christians included.

Of course, Christians aren’t the only ones who have suffered at the hands of such organizations. For example, most victims of ISIS are fellow Muslims who refuse to go along with the ISIS worldview and ruthless tactics.

Still, there’s ample evidence that Christians have been targeted. The latest came Friday, when an Italian prosecutor revealed that a network of Pakistanis associated with al Qaeda talked about attacking the Vatican back in March 2010.

“This is … a reminder about the world we’re in right now,” U.S. Rep. John Delaney, D-Maryland, told CNN on Friday. “…I do think there’s a larger narrative about Christian persecution (by) militant groups around the world.”

This attack wasn’t carried out, but many others have been.

Some acts are not centrally organized but are no less horrific, such as reports that Muslim migrants threw 12 Christians off a boat in the Mediterranean Sea.

Other deadly acts and alleged plots have been blamed on established terror groups, including these recent examples:

April: Man planned to attack French churches

Sid Ahmed Ghlam asked for an ambulance to come to his Paris home on Sunday after (he claimed) he accidentally shot himself in the thigh.

Besides getting medical help, Ghlam was arrested after authorities found four Kalashnikov guns, a revolver, ammunition, police armbands and more in his car and residence, Paris Prosecutor Francois Molins said on Wednesday. They also turned up “documents in Arabic mentioning al Qaeda and ISIS” and correspondence with someone in Syria “asking him to target a church.”

Prime Minister Manuel Valls later went to a church in the Paris suburb of Villejuif, one of the at least two such Christian places of worship that Ghlam allegedly targeted.

While he didn’t elaborate, Molins said that the satellite navigation system in Ghlam’s car — which included a loaded Kalashnikov and more — had one church’s location plugged in.

It’s not clear what group, if any, Ghlam was working with or possibly getting orders from. Still, authorities flatly characterized him as a terrorist — linking him to the death of 32-year-old Aurelie Chatelain, whom Molins called the region’s first victim of terrorism since the Charlie Hebdo massacre and kosher market siege in January.

Regardless of whether Ghlam is ever convicted in Chatelain’s killing, it appears unlikely that he’ll be able to commit more violence anytime soon.

“A terrorist attack has been foiled,” French President Francois Hollande said.

April: ISIS video shows beheadings of Ethiopian Christians

ISIS has turned its beheadings of hostages into horror shows, producing propaganda videos seemingly aimed at producing the maximum amount of terror.

What set the one from April apart were the number of people killed and that they were Christians from Ethiopia.

Ethiopia’s government said Monday that 30 of its citizens were among two groups of prisoners shown being beheaded in Libya in a video released a day earlier, according to the Ethiopian News Agency.

That 39-minute video shows one set of captives killed on a beach along the Mediterranean Sea, while the other group is taken hundreds of miles away, to southern Libya.

“All praise be to Allah, the Lord and cherisher of the world and may peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Mohammed,” the video’s narrator says in Arabic. “To the nation of the cross, we are back again on the sands, where the companions of the Prophet, peace be upon him, have stepped on before, telling you: Muslim blood that was shed under the hands of your religion is not cheap.”

The same video brazenly claims that ISIS has been merciful to Christians in Iraq — by giving them the choice of paying a fine if they refuse to convert to Islam. But not all have taken this offer, according to a different speaker.

“The Islamic State has offered the Christian community this many times and set a deadline for this,” this speaker says, using the name ISIS calls itself. “But the Christians never cooperated.”

April: Al-Shabaab militants single out Christians in Kenya

Everyone at Kenya’s Garissa University College suffered in some way when a handful of Al-Shabaab gunmen stormed the campus early this month.

But death was reserved for Christians.

According to AFP, the terrorists separated students by religion — allowing Muslims to leave and killing Christians. Nightmare accounts soon emerged, like that of Cynthia Cherotich, who told CNN that she he hid in her closet when gunmen burst in and called out two of her roommates.

“(The attackers) told them if you don’t know to read to them in the Muslim word, … then you lie down,” recalled Cherotich, who refused to come out for two days. “And then, if you know, you go to the other side.”

This tactic of separating non-Muslims from Muslims mirrors what Al-Shabaab attackers did in December at a quarry in the Kenyan village of Kormey, where at least 36 were killed, according to the Kenyan Red Cross.

One of Al-Shabaab‘s explicit aims is to turn Somalia, its home base, into a fundamentalist Islamic state, according to the Council of Foreign Relations. But that’s not its only apparent goal, as the group has increasingly branched out — including into neighboring Kenya, which is 80% Christian — to inflict pain and terror.

After the the Kenya university attack, which left nearly 150 people dead, Nadif Jama, Garissa’s regional governor, dismissed Al-Shabaab’s claims that it only kills non-Muslims as “a tricky way of doing business.”

“The fallacy and satanic mindset of Al-Shabaab is that, in Somalia, they kill Muslims and Somalis,” Jama said, claiming the group’s militants are “bent on nothing but destruction. … That is something we need to fight.”

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Greg Botelho

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