Eritrean teen migrant forced to witness Libya massacre – ‘I watched IS beheading Christians’

EXCLUSIVE: IBTimes UK talks to Nael Goitom, who escaped IS in Libya after a month in captivity.

by Gianluca Mezzofiore | International Business Times

A 16-year-old Eritrean migrant who escaped captivity under the Islamic State (Isis) in Libya has exclusively told IBTimes UK that the jihadists forced him to watch the beheading and shooting of Eritrean and Ethiopian Christians.

(From left) Abraham Naizghi, Yasin Abdulaziz, Yohannes Mebrahtu, Nael Goitom, Thomas Ghiwet and Aman Shishay escaped IS in Libya after one month of captivity

(From left) Abraham Naizghi, Yasin Abdulaziz, Yohannes Mebrahtu, Nael Goitom, Thomas Ghiwet and Aman Shishay escaped IS in Libya after one month of captivity

Nael Goitom fled IS captivity along with four other Eritreans minors on 7 April after the extremists decided to move their Libyan camp in the desert to get away from fighting in the area.

“We thought: it’s better to try to escape than to wait to be slaughtered by them,” he told IBTimes UK in an interview. They walked for four days before reaching a settled area and asking for help.

Under more than a month of IS captivity, the Christian boys were forced to learn the Koran to become “Cubs of the Caliphate”. “They asked us ‘what do you choose, to be killed or to become Muslims?’ Of course we choose the latter. ‘We’ll fight for you’, we said,” Nael said.

But the most harrowing account regards the execution of dozens of Ethiopian and Eritrean Christians in Libya by IS militants, which was shown in a 30-minute video featuring extensive rants against Christianity and the West.

The final part of the clip shows a group of men dressed in black who are said to be hostages in southern Libya held by a group of IS fighters clutching machine guns.

Then, the prisoners are shot in the back of the head. The video also depicts masked militants escorting a group of men in orange jumpsuits along a beach. The men’s severed heads are later shown in the sand.

‘We were forced to watch IS cutting heads’

“They made me watch everything,” Nael said. “After the kidnapping they put us in one big hole, Eritreans and Ethiopians.”

“Then one day they came over and brought black clothes and asked 47 people to wear them. Then, they took them to the sea. They also carried 10 minors, I was among them. I saw when IS shot them dead. We kept screaming,” he continued.

The jihadists reportedly did the same with the rest of the group – about 14 people – who were forced to wear orange jumpsuits. “We were forced to watch IS cut their heads,” Nael said.

The boy was kidnapped on 3 March after he crossed Libya from Sudan along with other 61 Eritrean men, 10 Eritrean women and 8 Ethiopians. About 20 or 30 armed IS members stopped the Tripoli-bound caravan of migrants in the middle of the southern Libyan desert and they started asking religious questions.

“They wanted to know who was Muslim among us. We Christians had crosses and pictures of Jesus, so we really couldn’t hide it,” he said.

‘I keep seeing people being slaughtered and shot one by one’

Somalians were allowed to continue, while Eritreans and Ethiopians were driven to the IS camp in the desert. There were about 300-400 members of the jihadist group in the camp and for days the prisoners, who were tied and held in a large hole, were told that “the boss will come and decided our destiny”.

Nael recognised three Eritreans fighting for IS. “We hoped they were going to help us, but instead they showed no emotions,” he said.

After his escape, Nael and four other minors – Yohannes Mebrahtu, Thomas Ghiwet, Abraham Naizghi and Aman Shishay – walked for four days before running into a Sudanese man who drove them towards the Sahara where most of the refugees gather. Then, a smuggler got them into Tripoli, where Nael’s brother lives.

Despite the lucky escape, Nael is still traumatised by the ordeal.

“I’m starting to process it now. Until a few days ago it was just a matter of survival. Now I have a lot of nightmares, I keep seeing people being slaughtered and shot one by one,” he said.

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Posted by on April 25, 2015. Filed under FEATURED. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

3 Responses to Eritrean teen migrant forced to witness Libya massacre – ‘I watched IS beheading Christians’

  1. Namaga

    April 25, 2015 at 12:18 PM

    I stopped believing stories being told by British journalists on Africa and Islam because of Britain’s media racist policies.

    In Liberia, Sierra Leone, Senegal, Northern Uganda BBC and other media outlets paid local boys to confess that they ate human flesh, holding heart from a dead human being or animal. In Syria, they video-taped a person decapitate a heart from a dead person and waved it in the air. The British racism has a keen interest to demonize the images of black Africans and Muslims in general.

    In regards to the fictional story above, it’s all the same theme of British hatred fro Islam, where the patriotic Libyans are fighting to bring some sort of order after the US and Britain destroyed the physical infrastructure and morale of the Libyan people.

    None of the young men shown are teenagers. As Ethiopian, I can tell, they are above high school age, 20 years and above. Secondly, it would impossible to escape from the freedom fighters once captured. In a country like Libya, where sate security is minimal, highly organized groups like these freedom fighters who control the entire eastern Libya would have no reason to did holes to hide their prisoners, and from whom? Yes, Saddam Hussien was reportedly found in a hole on the ground but that is just an old story that doesn’t apply with the so called jihadists.

    ‘Cubs of the IS caliphate’= Child soldiers for the caliphate of IS. Really? The hate propagandist wants readers to believe that IS is desperately short of fighters that they would force travelling Christians foreigners to fight ‘jihad’. It can’t be true because it’s well known that all IS fighters are volunteers.

    The false story depicted here wants the reader to believe that the freedom fighters are religious fanatics who hate Christianity but we know Christians and Jews of Libya are not killed or harassed by the fighters. If they were captured, which is not true they escaped, especially from a hole in the ground, and this group hates and kills Christians, they would kill them before they had the chance to escape.

  2. G.Abebe

    April 26, 2015 at 5:59 PM

    I agree with above comment BBC is underground RACIST institution, but that does not mean when they expose Islam’s hate preaching and terror practice is wrong. When it comes exposing Islam’s terrorist culture is undeniable true.

  3. Namaga

    April 30, 2015 at 7:46 AM

    You are deeply misinformed. Islam is most accommodating and peaceful religion. That’s may be one of the reasons foreign aggressors have a field day in destroying Muslims people and their societies.
    To blame invaded peoples of Iraq, Syria, Palestine for hating their predicament and imperialists, neo-colonialists and Zionists is equal to blaming Ethiopians for resisting Italian occupation in the 1930s, or equal to blaming Ethiopians for fighting in Adwa against Italy.