The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom released a statement on Tuesday condemning the execution of five aid workers kidnapped by an Islamic extremist group.
The aid workers were kidnapped last month and their killing was publicly announced last week by members of the Islamic State in West Africa Province (ISWAP). The ISWAP is a breakaway faction of Boko Haram, another Islamic extremist terrorist group.
“ISWAP’s execution of aid workers is beyond reprehensible. The militant Islamic group shows no remorse as it continues to target civilians based on their faith,” said USCIRF Vice Chair Tony Perkins in a statement July 28.
On July 23, the ISWAP claimed to have killed the five aid workers in its weekly digital newsletter. The workers were kidnapped in separate incidents during the first two weeks of June.
Three of the five men executed in the video were known employees of Christian aid agencies. Mohammad Buhari, the president of Nigeria, said the other two men were employed by secular aid agencies.
Buhari, through a spokesman, expressed condolences to the families of those slain and promised to see that “every remaining vestige of Boko Haram is wiped out completely from northeastern Nigeria.”
“President Buhari also condoles with the State Emergency Management Agency, Action Against Hunger, Rich International, and International Rescue Committee, whose staff have suffered this gruesome fate,” said the statement. “He thanks them for their continued dedication and service to the victims of Boko Haram in Northeastern Nigeria.”
Speaking on a panel organized by In Defense of Christians last month, Bishop Matthew H. Kukah of the Nigerian Diocese of Sokoto said that the situation in the country stems from a culture that has devalued Christianity and no longer cares about faith.
“This is the vacuum that [extremists] are exploiting–mainly, a west that is in retreat, as far as Christianity and Christian values are concerned, a west in which diplomats and businesspeople are far from being interested in matters of faith, especially when it comes to Christianity,” said Kukah.