migrants from Africa have spoken of making the perilous journey across
the Mediterranean to escape beheading from Islamic State fanatics in
group of Eritrean refugees told how they were forced to deny their
faith or face death at the hands of Islamist gunmen who patrol the towns
and beaches of the North African state searching for 'infidels'.
19, told MailOnline: 'We are Christians but we had to deny our faith
otherwise the gunmen would kill us, slit our throats and cut off our
and his brother Samuel, 14, arrived in Sicily a week ago, just days
before around 900 people died when their boat capsized during the same
dangerous journey from Libya - one of the worst maritime disasters since
the end of World War Two.
Migrants: Eritrean refugees Haben
(left) and his younger brother Samuel made the perilous journey across
the Mediterranean to escape beheading from Islamic State fanatics
said his friends had been shot dead by armed ISIS terrorists who patrol
the anarchy-ridden towns and beaches of the country.
He told MailOnline: 'I have friends - from Eritrea and Egypt - who were killed because they are Christians.
'The men come around with Kalashnikov and they ask you what is your faith.
you are Christian they take you away and kill you. They cut off your
head or shoot you. This is what they have done to hundreds of
Tens of thousands of migrants are fleeing Libya as extremists take advantage of the political chaos engulfing the country.
ISIS having established strongholds in the towns on Sirte and Derna,
and with smaller bases elsewhere in the country, fear of capture and
execution at the hands of the radical Islamists is driving the desperate
migrants to leave Libya as quickly as they can, dangerously overloading
yesterday, Ethiopian officials revealed that the 30 Christians filmed
being beheaded and shot by Islamic State militants in Libya were likely
to have been desperate migrants trying to reach Europe and even Britain.
29-minute video released on Sunday is titled 'Until It Came To Them -
Clear Evidence', and shows dozens of militants butchering two separate
groups of men in the north African country.
(l-r) Haben, Aman, Tesfalem and Samuel set off on the perilous sea journey across the Med Sea last week
Around 1,300 people are believed to
have drowned in the past two weeks while trying to reach Europe in boats
launched from Libya
Local residents and rescue workers
help a woman after a boat carrying migrants sank off the island of
Rhodes, southeastern Greece yesterday
Haben and his brother Samuel, 14, risked their lives in hope of a brighter future in Europe.
teenagers were able to keep their faith hidden, concealing the polished
wooden crosses they wear around their necks underneath thick clothes.
But other Eritrean Christians told MailOnline they were forced to deny their faith to stay alive.
18, said: 'I had a wooden cross but I had to throw it away to keep my
life. The gunmen came around looking for Christians. They said they
would kill the infidels, so I cut my cross off my neck and threw it
'I speak Arabic so I pretended that I was not a Christian, that I pray to their God, and they believed me.'
together with Haben, Samuel and another Eritrean Tesfalem, who are all
followers of the Coptic Orthodox Church - the main Christian Church in
Egypt which has members worldwide - set off on the perilous sea journey
across the Mediterranean last week.
Refugee route: Tens of thousands of
migrants are fleeing Libya as extremists take advantage of the political
chaos engulfing the country
video released on Sunday is titled 'Until It Came To Them - Clear
Evidence', and shows dozens of militants butchering two separate groups
of men in the north African country
Thirty Ethiopian Christians appear to
have been beheaded and shot by ISIS in a sickening new propaganda video.
Above, at least 16 men are marched down a beach in Libya by militants
before they are killed
1,300 people are believed to have drowned in the past two weeks while
trying to reach Europe in boats launched from Libya.
speaking from Mineo which is a temporary home to around 4,000 people,
said: 'We paid $2000 each for a place in a boat. The boat left Libya and
we were in the sea for two days before we were rescued.
'We were taken to the port and then to a camp with other refugees.
'But we won't stay here. We are going to Rome and then other countries. We want to work and make a hood life.'
said he fled his homeland after he was conscripted into the army - an
ordeal that can last up to 30 years in this authoritarian state in the
Horn of Africa.
The country has been likened to African version of North Korea, led by President Isaias Afewerki.
Most of the adults living in Eritrea face conscription or compulsory labour.
other migrants were sent by their families in the hope they could lead a
better life - an education and good jobs - than is impossible in the
isolated nation state.
Pictured: Migrants are transferred to holding centres after landing in Augusta's port, near Siracusa, Sicily
well as the spread of ISIS in the country, Libya is currently in a
state of civil war - with two rival governments controlling and
operating in different areas of the country.
smugglers are taking advantage of the subsequent chaos and confusion
tearing the country apart to ply their trade with little to no threat of
2015 there have already been 30 times more migrants dying off the coast
of Libya than in 2014 - which was itself a record-breaking year.
week, Christian refugees revealed how they linked arms to form a
'human chain' in a desperate bid to stop Muslim migrants throwing them
into the sea after an argument about religion.
group of 15 men were arrested on suspicion of 'multiple aggravated
murder motivated by religious hate' earlier this month after 12
Christians from Ghana and Nigeria were allegedly thrown off a rubber
dinghy into the Mediterranean Sea.
from the boat, made up of 105 migrants from diverse religions and
ethnicities, have now claimed the men tried to throw other Christians
off the side of the vessel after an argument about religion - but were
prevented because they huddled together to create a human chain.
ISLAMIC STATE'S REACH NOW STRETCHES FROM ALGERIA TO AFGHANISTAN
out of the Iraqi War in 2003, Islamic State's deadly grip has stretched
across the Middle East and into northern-Africa where today, only the
Mediterranean Sea separates the militants from Europe.
has conquered regions of Iraq, Syria and recently Libya while building a
terrifying support structure in Turkey, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt's
Sinai Province, Afghanistan, Tunisia and Algeria.
New ground: ISIS has conquered regions
of Iraq, Syria and recently Libya (pictured) while building a
terrifying support structure in Turkey, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Egypt's
Sinai Province, Afghanistan, Tunisia and Algeria
Europe's doorstep: Islamic State has
now gained control of a number of Libyan coastal towns including
Benghazi, Sirte, Derna and Nofilia
commands 31,500 loyal fighters according to the CIA but a commander of
the Kurdish fighters who battled the extremists told the Independent on
Sunday that they number closer to 200,000.
Its growth in power and territory has been staggering since 2004 when it was known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI).
group played a prominent role in the violent insurgency against the US
and British occupation of Iraq after toppling Saddam Hussein's rule in
a string of bombings and murders over the next two years, its
membership grew to around 1,000 according to the Washington Monthly.
AQI then merged with its Mujahideen Shura Council allies in October 2006 to form the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI).
the Iraq War which took place between 2006 and 2008, ISI had
strongholds in Mosul, Baghdad, Al-Anbar and Diyala and commanded between
1,000 and 2,500 soldiers by late 2012.
it expanded into Syria in April 2013, it finally transformed into the
Islamic State of Iraq in Syria (ISIS) as it exists today.
State has now self-proclaimed the Syrian city of Raqqa as its capital,
although there have been reports of increased defections.
was once a rebel group defying the British and US occupation of Iraq.
Now other extremists across the Middle East and northern-Africa are
pledging allegiance to it.
organisations inside Libya such as Ansar al-Sharia - which has taken
control of Benghazi and declared its own Islamic state - also announced
its alliance with ISIS in 2014.