A week after a deadly attack on an Orthodox church in the Dagestan region of Russia which killed at least five people, Islamic State is inciting its followers to kill and kidnap Christians in "Russian-occupied Muslim areas," according to a report.
The website of the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors online communications by terrorist groups, carries a letter, titled "Strike Their Necks and Strike Each One of Their Sons," in which Islamic State is urging supporters to kill and kidnap Christians in Russia's Muslim-majority republics, including Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan.
The letter cites last Sunday's church attack in Dagestan, calling the killer an "extraordinary mujtahid" and suggesting he needs to be seen as an example.
"Allah permitting, this will be the spark for more bloody attacks that will destroy a larger number of the Christian combatants in all the Russian-occupied Muslim areas," the letter reads, according to Newsweek. "Many of them will be killed as a punishment for their disbelief in Allah the Great, and it will plant fear and horror inside the hearts of hundreds of thousands of their brothers and make them flee with fear."
The Dagestan attack was carried out by a bearded man who used a knife and a hunting rifle to kill five people and injure several others during the worship service at the Orthodox church in Kizlyar, which is located in the mostly Muslim region of Dagestan where Russians reportedly account for only about 40 percent of the population.
Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh, claimed responsibility for the attack, calling the killer a "soldier of the caliphate," who yelled "Allah Akbar," which means "God is great" in Arabic, while attacking.
The letter then urges Muslims to kidnap and kill Christians as well as to use extortion in Russia, which is helping Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to fight IS. "Let every Muslim know that the blood of those combatant Christians and their money is permissible and that taking any of them as hostages for ransom or to swap with a Muslim prisoner is also permissible. So let the good deed be for everybody."
The Orthodox Church has in the past declared that Russia is fighting a "holy battle" in Syria against the jihadists.
However, Christian foreign policy experts have warned that despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's stated mutual interest in combating radical Islamic extremism, he cannot be regarded as a defender of Christians amid his country's crackdown on non-Russian Orthodox denominations.
In 2016, Putin signed the Yarovaya law that bans all missionary activities in residential areas and requires Christians who want to share their faith with others, even on the internet, to obtain authorization documents from a religious association. It also imposes a fine of $75 to $765 if the violator is a Russian citizen, and a fine of up to $15,265 in case of organizations, while foreigners would be deported.