Islamic militants with suspected ties to Iranian security forces have been terrorizing evangelical Christians with threats to "repent" or die, it was reported Sunday.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide has reported that 11 Iranian Christians who fled Iran in the wake of a government campaign against Christianity have received threats via email to "repent" or face extrajudicial execution, from a group identifying itself as the "The Unknown Soldiers of The Hidden Imam."
The threatening emails that were sent to each individual on Sept. 14 aspired to extend the arm of Iranian Islamic militancy beyond the borders of Iran by implying that, although the recipients have left Iran, they have not escaped the "acute eyes of the unknown soldiers."
The emails conclude by offering the 11 Christians "the opportunity to repent and ask forgiveness from the presence of the Hidden Imam," defined as the 12th Imam, the Messiah-figure in Shia theology, and the Great Allah. Otherwise, each individual would be killed according to the Fatwa given by Mehdi the Hidden Imam.
According to CSW, the Rev. Samuel Yeghnazar of Elam Ministries, who has been closely involved in the house church movement in Iran, has indicated that he and his network of churches are taking the threat very seriously.
This threat is similar to the coercion of Youcef Nadarkhani, an Iranian Christian pastor who was tried and found guilty of apostasy in September of 2010 due to the charge that he abandoned his Islamic religion and converted to Christianity.
Nadarkhani disagreed with the assertion, stating he had not held a particular religion after passing the age of puberty (age of accepted acknowledgement) until the age 19, when he converted to Christianity.
Although the court later agreed that Nadarkhani was not a practicing Muslim adult before becoming a Christian, they decided that he remains guilty of apostasy because he has Muslim ancestry.
Despite the threat of execution by hanging, Nadarkhani has refused to recant his Christian faith.
“The threat against the 11 Iranian citizens in the Diaspora is an appalling and vicious move by a group suspected of close association with the Iranian security forces," said CSW Chief Executive Officer Mervyn Thomas in a statement on the group's website. "It is vital that countries hosting Iranian refugees and asylum seekers ensure these vulnerable people receive adequate protection, and make it clear to the Iranian authorities that cross-border assassinations are wholly unacceptable and will not be tolerated."