Thirteen of the 21 Egyptian Christians killed by ISIS in Libya were from Al Aour
"They deprived me of my sons, I hope God deprives them," one mother says
A man who narrowly avoided capture by the militants says he now feels guilty
Mina Aziz had no real education but he did have a strong back.
With marriage on his mind and empty pockets, the 24-year-old left his Egyptian village for Libya.
Aziz was one of many Egyptians who go to Libya looking for work, but his journey ended in horror.
He was one of 21 Egyptian Christians killed at the hands of ISIS’ Libyan branch. The Islamic militants released a gruesome video Sunday showing the beheadings of at least a dozen of the men on a beach.
‘I hope God deprives them’
Thirteen of the dead were from Aziz’s village, Al Aour, roughly 200 kilometers (125 miles) south of Cairo.
One mother in the village, Om Beshir, lost two of her sons in the ISIS slaughter.
Before their abduction, they had talked about their planned return home to celebrate Christmas.
“They said, Ma, cook all the holiday food,” she tells me. “But the bastards kidnapped them. Like they deprived me of my sons, I hope God deprives them.”
The Egyptian military responded to the horrific killings by bombing ISIS targets in Libya on Monday.
The 21 Egyptian Christians were seized in the Libyan city of Sirte in two separate incidents in December and January.
‘The entire village is proud’
Hana Aziz says he was almost taken, too.
Masked men came for his cousins and nephew in the adjacent room. Hana Aziz says he witnessed the scene unfold through a crack in the wall, hearing the militants announce they had orders from “the emir” to arrest all Christians in Sirte.
He managed to escape into the desert with 15 others. Now back home in the dusty streets of Al Aour, he is avoiding his family.
“I feel guilty,” he says. “First of all, the situation was difficult, more than you can imagine. How can your nephew be taken from your hand? How can you face your brother or your uncle? What would you tell them?”
Despite the grisly video of the men’s deaths, Hana Aziz takes solace in one aspect of what it shows.
“To the last moment, the name of Jesus was on their lips,” he says. “As they were being martyred, they were calling God’s name, saying, ‘God, have mercy on us.’ The entire village is proud.”
‘What else could he do?’
Hana Aziz says he won’t return to Libya, but some of his neighbors probably will.
Like other villages in the region, Al Aour is impoverished and work is scarce. Libya offers young men like Mina Aziz a chance to earn money.
At his home, his boyish face stares out of a photo clutched by grieving relatives.
In the picture, his jeans and dressy black shirt belie the type of labor he did.
“He was a worker, he used to carry sand and rocks, what else could he do?” says Mina Aziz’s mother, Afaf. “He didn’t have a trade. He would have taken any job offered to him.”
CNN’s Ian Lee reported and wrote from Al Aour, and Jethro Mullen wrote from Hong Kong.