The United States for years has praised Ethiopia’s fight against terrorism in East Africa, but that hard-line approach to extreme Islamism may have contributed to the bloody execution of dozens of Ethiopian Christians who were targeted by the Islamic State in Libya.
Addis Ababa has been long consumed with a bigger threat on their borders — against the militant group al-Shabab in neighboring Somalia. The slaughter of two groups of Christians, in Libya likely seeking work or passage to Europe, newly confronts Ethiopia with the world’s fastest-spreading insurgency.
Militants in Libya claiming affiliation with the Islamic extremists documented the brutal killings of two groups of Ethiopian Christian men, whom they accuse of belonging to “the hostile Ethiopian Orthodox Church.” Men in one group, clad in orange jumpsuits on the beach, were beheaded. Others, dressed entirely in black, were lined up and shot.
On Monday, J. Peter Pham, the director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, told Foreign Policy that Ethiopia’s involvement in the fight against al-Shabab and other local extremist groups could make Ethiopians an attractive target for the Islamic State.