Somali Islamic extremists beheaded four Christians recently after kidnapping them last month, according to eyewitness accounts reported to International Christian Concern (ICC).
Members of the Islamic extremist organization Al-Shabaab had kidnapped Fatima Sultan, Ali Ma'ow, Sheik Mohammed Abdi, and Maaddey Diil on July 27 from their coastal town of Merca, 56 miles from Mogadishu, and eventually beheaded the Christians after they refused to renounce their faith in Jesus Christ.
The four Christians had been working for a local NGO that helps orphans in southern Somalia.
"Al-Shabaab has once again demonstrated its utter disregard for the dignity of human life," commented Jonathan Racho, ICC's Regional Manager for Africa and the Middle East, after receiving news of the beheadings. "It is high time for the international community to take robust measures to end the heinous crimes that Al-Shabaab and other extremist groups are committing against the people of Somalia."
According to one eye witness account, all four of the "apostates" were given an opportunity to return to Islam and to be released "but they all declined the generous offer."
When they refused, all four were beheaded for apostasy and news of their deaths was passed along to their families on Aug. 4 by a junior Al-Shabaab militant who called himself "Seiful Islam" ("the Sword of Islam").
Then militant described the Christians as promoters of "fitna," a Muslim term for religious discord.
He also told the families that the bodies will not be given to them "as Somalia does not have cemeteries for infidels," according to a report received by the ICC.
A Somali church leader who monitors the persecution against the Somali Church described the latest beheadings as a desperate attempt to "purify" Somalia by eliminating all Christians from what the Al Qaeda linked terror group considers an Islamic Republic.
The church leader told ICC that such murders will only serve as a rich seedbed from where many more house-churches will form.
Though Islamists in Somalia have been known for carrying out ruthless attacks against the country's Christian minority, the majority of Muslims in Somalia are also the "victims of Al-Shabaab's cruelty," said ICC's Racho in his organization's report of the latest incident.
"[They] do not support their ideology or practices," he added.
According to ICC, Al-Shabaab is a radical Islamic organization fighting to establish an Islamic state in Somalia and enforce Wahhabi/Salafi Islam, an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam practiced by the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The Islamist group controls large parts of Somalia and seeks to overthrow the internationally recognized transitional federal government of Somalia.
Last year alone, members of the group killed more than a half dozen Somali Christians, and last month, Al-Shabaab beheaded seven people in the southwestern town of Baidoa after accusing them of converting to Christianity and spying for the transitional federal government of Somalia.
Al-Shabab has been designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the United States Department of State. It's also described as a terrorist organization by the Norwegian Police Security Service and the Swedish Security Service.