Islamic State militants in the group's Libyan outpost of Derna have publicly crucified three brothers belonging to a local prominent family after one of the brothers was accused of supporting the Libyan government, which under ISIS' Sharia law is equivalent to the executable offense of apostasy.
According to the Libya Herald, a photo circulated last week purporting to show three members of the Harir Al-Mansouri family being crucified near the group's Islamic court in the Mediterranean coastal town of Derna, after they refused to turn over their brother, whom the group accused of supporting the Libyan National Army.
The report adds that as many as eight members of the family, including two sisters, were killed when the militant group began a 12-hour bombardment on the family's home when they refused to surrender their brother. The public crucifixion was supposed to serve as a warning to the town's residents to not challenge the sovereignty and authority of ISIS.
"They were possibly dead at the time," the report indicated. "Islamic 'crucifixion' is a punishment used by some fundamentalists against those accused of warring against Islam, in which the dead bodies of those executed are left exposed for a number of days as a warning to others. It has been used by Islamists in Syria."
An unnamed anti-ISIS activist, who has sources within the militant group, told Newsweek that the dead bodies of the men were left out for public view for about five hours.
"The took them and crucified them near the court," the activist explains. "They were kept for five hours and then some of the elders came and took them to bury them. For the first time, I was thinking that I was not in Libya, it's like you are in Syria or Iraq."
The activist also explained that one of the Harir sisters named Faiza was thought to have killed the ISIS military operations leader in Derna. She was reportedly injured in the clash with the militant group and later received medical help at a hospital where ISIS found and killed her.
The activist also told Newsweek that ISIS militants in Derna plan on forcing the town's residents to join the group as a way to increase membership within the military ranks. He explained that ISIS has advertised an upcoming religious lecture in the town entitled "The Start and The End" and it is believed that after the lecture, the group will begin forcefully making Derna residents join the group or risk being executed as apostates.
"The situation is really, really bad nowadays, They are going to ask all people to declare their allegiance to the caliphate and if they don't do it, they will punish them," the activist asserted. "A friend of mine who is working with ISIS said that they will force people to go to ISIS and declare because they want help in the war."
The activist further explained that many residents in the town have already made up their minds that they will not be joining the militant group.
"The people have already decided on this part. They will not go. They will not participate and they will keep themselves in their houses," he said. "[ISIS] will kill them [if they don't pledge.] If you don't join them it's like apostasy, you will not be a believer."
The activist sees the public crucifixion of the three Harir family members tying in with the upcoming effort by ISIS to force residents to join the group.
"If [ISIS] are to do that, it's that they think they have showed that there is no choice. They probably feel that the grip of terror that they have is enough now to have people scared and have people come in and pledge allegiance to the Islamic State," the activist argued. "It sends a clear message that if you do not pledge allegiance to ISIS you are not just endangering yourself, you're endangering your own family. It thinks people have no choice, the people that did not pledge allegiance to IS before, they will have to do it."
A Libyan Army commander announced on Monday that ISIS killed five journalists working for a Libyan TV station, who went missing in August, in the eastern city of Bayda.
"We are deeply shocked by this brutal slaughter," International Federation of Journalists President Jim Boumelha was quoted by Yahoo News as saying. "ISIS aims to horrify but we can only feel great sorrow and further resolve to see the killers held accountable."