Christians in “Russian-occupied Muslim areas,” such as Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, are under threat after it’s been discovered that the Islamic State has been telling its followers to kidnap and murder them, according to an intelligence group that monitors the terrorist organization’s online communications.
Claiming that Russian rule is an “occupation” in the Muslim-majority republics in Russia, ISIS circulated a letter, titled “Strike Their Necks and Strike Each One of Their Sons,” which states that Russia aims to convert Muslims to Christianity or forcibly displace them.
SITE Intelligence Group published the document Thursday, according to a report in Newsweek.
Five women were killed when a man fired at a church in Dagestan on Monday. ISIS later claimed responsibility for the attack, although the group often claims responsibility for terror attacks even when there is no evidence.
In its letter released Thursday, ISIS cited the church attack in Dagestan as an example of what its followers should do. The killer, who the ISIS letter describes as an “extraordinary mujtahid,” used a hunting rifle to kill people attending the Russian pre-Lent festival Maslenitsa. The man reportedly donned a beard and yelled, “Allahu akbar.”
“Allah permitting, this will be the spark for more bloody attacks that will destroy a larger number of the Christian combatants in all the Russian-occupied Muslim areas,” the letter reads. “Many of them will be killed as a punishment for their disbelief in Allah the Great, and it will plant fear and horror inside the hearts of hundreds of thousands of their brothers and make them flee with fear.”
— Robert Spencer (@jihadwatchRS) February 19, 2018
Newsweek further reported that the letter called for Muslims to kidnap and kill Christians living in Russia.
“Let every Muslim know that the blood of those combatant Christians and their money is permissible and that taking any of them as hostages for ransom or to swap with a Muslim prisoner is also permissible. So let the good deed be for everybody,” the letter reads.
Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the attack targeting Christians at a church in Dagestan. IS claims to have established a province in the wider region. If memory serves, the first attack IS claimed in Dagestan occurred in February 2016. https://t.co/LbWymiL1j1 pic.twitter.com/490ZpNuV4K
— Michael S. Smith II (@MichaelSSmithII) February 18, 2018
Russia rules a handful of Muslim-majority republics in addition to Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. The former Soviet Union, governed from Moscow, also included areas that today are independent Muslim-majority countries, such as Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan, among others. This history is mentioned in the ISIS letter as an example of Russia’s “crusade” against Muslims.
Russia is currently fighting alongside Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose troops have fought against the Islamic State. Human rights groups have accused Russia of killing thousands of civilians in Syria with airstrikes. The letter from ISIS did not mention Russia’s activities in Syria.