Last week, ISIS extremists executed 20 Nigerian Christians in a brutal knife attack to “avenge the killing of the group’s leaders in the Middle East.” 

The Islamic State posted footage of their executions in a vile warning to Nigerians, that they are there, are expanding their territory, and have the intent of imposing a draconian and barbaric rule. The militants carried out the merciless executions in Borno state where rival Islamist groups Boko Haram and Islamic State in West Africa (ISWAP) have been abducting, looting and killing on a huge scale.

Footage of the latest massacre shows one of the executioners saying in the Hausa language that the killings are a response to ISIS deaths in the Middle East earlier this year. It came a week after Islamic rebels killed at least seven people in an attack in northeast Borno.

Over 35,000 people have been killed and many more displaced in West Africa as a result of the extremist groups. The groups are clashing with each other, as well as the local and national governments that oppose them. 

The ISIS insurgents attacked Kautukari village in the Chibok area at the same time that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was in the state to meet with survivors of jihadist violence.

The Chibok area is 70 miles away from Maiduguri, the state capital, where Guterres met with former militants being reintegrated back into the society and thousands of people displaced by the insurgency.

Boko Haram and ISWAP were originally aligned but the groups splintered in 2016 and are now considered rivals.

“They came in large numbers with superior firepower (and) took over the community,” said Hassan Chibok, a community leader. 

Troops from a nearby military base were deployed to repel the attack but “the damage had been done,” Chibok said, adding that “casualties are up to 10.”

Another resident, Yana Galang, said at least seven people were killed in the latest violence before the Nigerian military intervened.

Nigeria, with a population of 206 million, continues to grapple with a 10-year-old insurgency in the northeast by Islamic extremist rebels of Boko Haram and its offshoot, the Islamic State West Africa Province. 

Still etched into public consciousness is the brutal abduction of the Chibok school girls, a group of mostly Christian girls between the ages of 16-18, by Boko Haram in 2014. They were famously abducted during their final exams from their school in Chibok, Nigeria, by the terrorist group in April 2014. 

To date, 100 of the 276 girls abducted are still missing. It is believed that most have been killed for their faith, married off to insurgents, or forced into sexual slavery. 

The extremists are fighting to establish Shariah law and to stop Western education, particularly the education of women and girls. More than 35,000 people have died and millions have been displaced by the extremist violence, according to the UN Development Program.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said last week that the war against the extremists is “approaching its conclusion,” citing continued military airstrikes and the mass defection of thousands of the fighters, some of whom analysts say are laying down their arms because of infighting within the jihadi group.

The violence however continues in border communities and areas closer to the Lake Chad region, the stronghold of ISWAP.

“Things are getting worse” in Kautukari village in Chibok and adjourning areas closer to the forest, said community leader Chibok, saying the extremists’ presence near the forest is a contributing factor.

The global coalition against ISIS gathered today in Morocco to coordinate efforts to prevent the jihadists staging a revival in the Middle East and North Africa.

Senior officials from dozens of countries are attending the meeting, under high security in Marrakesh.

The meeting comes three years after the coalition helped Syrian fighters to crush the “caliphate” IS had proclaimed in Iraq and Syria and as the jihadists step up their efforts to bolster their presence in the Sahel region and West Africa.

The Global Coalition against Daesh (an Arabic acronym for ISIS) was formed in 2014 after the militants seized huge swathes of Iraq and Syria and now included 84 states and international organizations.

We at American FRRME know the horrors of ISIS all too well. These barbaric actions must be stopped. The loss of life and dignity as a result of extremism is something no one should experience. We feel for those in West Africa who have lost loved ones, their homes, and been exposed to extreme violence. North Africa and West Africa are close neighbors of the nations and regions where we do our work, and are experiencing record outbreaks of both extremist violence and government-level persecution. 

It is unfortunate and tragic, and a type of violence that could spill over into surrounding regions, should the fighting continue. 

We are ever vigilant in doing what we can to make sure that those who were impacted by ISIS in 2014, and again in 2017, have access to programs that can help them rebuild their lives. As you may already know, our primary mission is to help Iraqi refugees who lost it all when ISIS invaded the Nineveh Plain in 2014. 

Our center in Madaba provides educational and therapeutic programs to help refugees heal. As the global refugee crisis deepens, and violence in surrounding regions increases, our reach will inevitably be larger, and we must be ready to help however we can. We can’t do that without people like you.

American FRRME is committed to long term self-sustaining programs and opportunities to help empower refugees and Internally Displaced Persons. Donations to American FRRME go to programs that will aid in the survival of families facing violence in the Middle East.