The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) denounced the execution of five aid workers on July 19 in northeast Nigeria by the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram faction.
ISWAP militants claimed responsibility for the killings of these workers they had abducted last month. In a video, the fighters said that the executions were a warning to “all those being used by infidels to convert Muslims to Christianity.”
“ISWAP’s execution of aid workers is beyond reprehensible,”said USCIRF Vice Chairman Tony Perkins. “The militant Islamic group shows no remorse as it continues to target civilians based on their faith, such as Leah Sharibu who was abducted by Boko Haram over two years ago.”
Perkins advocates for Leah Sharibu as part of USCIRF’s Religious Prisoner of Conscience Project.
The five men who were killed had been abducted while providing assistance in the northeastern state of Borno last month. The video showed them kneeling and then being shot, according to the New York Times. “Local news outlets reported that they were aid workers with Action Against Hunger and the International Rescue Committee. One worked for Nigeria’s State Emergency Management Agency,” the Times reported.
Speaking of the militant groups responsible for this and other such abductions and killings, USCIRF Commissioner Frederick A. Davie said they must be countered by “strong, inclusive partnerships between African nations and the international community, including the U.S. government.”
In its 2020 Annual Report, USCIRF recommended that the U.S. Department of State designate Nigeria as a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, and that Boko Haram be designated an “entity of particular concern,” or EPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act for engaging in or tolerating systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom.