A Coptic Christian woman has revealed how, after brutally murdering her husband and son, an ISIS fighter calmly checked their names off of a hit-list he carried.
Nabila Fawzi Hanna, 65, told World Watch Monitor that masked ISIS militants knocked on the door of her family's home in Sinai's largest city, El-Arish, and immediately shot her son in the head as he opened the door.
"When I heard the gunshots I rushed out of my room barefoot and found him lying on the ground, bleeding from his forehead and nose. I screamed, asking them why they shot him," she recalled. "They told me to leave the house and pulled me outside, telling me to not to speak to anyone or go back inside. I noticed another two masked men were waiting inside a grey car near our house."
The men went back inside her husband, and Nabila recalled hearing him plead, "I'm a sick old man." Nevertheless, the jihadists mercilessly shot him twice in the head.
"Then they came out and asked me if I am a Christian," she said. "I said I was, then they asked me what my relationship was to the two men. ‘They are my son and husband,' I told them. They asked their names and I answered."
She added, "One of them was holding a list of many names and when I gave their names, he looked at the list and ticked them off with a pen."
The two men asked Nabila if there was any gold jewelry in the house and, when she said there wasn't, they forcefully pulled her gold wedding ring from her finger before going back inside.
"They looted the house and put the stolen things in their car before setting the house on fire," she said. "They took about 40 minutes. We're the only Christian family on the street. I was alone - none of the neighbors helped me; they heard the gunshots but were afraid to come out. I didn't know what to do. I went back inside and saw the bodies of my son and husband. It was horrific."
Eventually, some young men living nearby helped Nabila put out the fire, but not before it had burnt the body of her son and damaged the house.
Nabila said she felt abandoned by security forces. "There isn't a security plan to protect Christians [in El-Arish]," she said. "The men took 45 minutes. Where were the police while they did this? And the vet, Bahgat William Zakhar, who was killed in front of people during the busy hours of the day, while those who killed him walked 300 metres down the street shouting ‘Allahu akbar' [Allah is the greatest]. Where was the security? The security failure in North Sinai made those militants target us."
Egypt is home to one of the world's oldest Christian communities, accounting for roughly 10 percent of its 92 million people. However, according to Open Doors USA's 2017 World Watch List, the country ranks as the 21st worst nation in the world when it comes to the level of Christian persecution.
The Coptic Church, which is over 19 centuries old, has long complained of social prejudice and workplace discrimination and has frequently been targeted by Islamic militants.
Between December 2014 and January 2015, ISIS militants kidnapped twenty-one Coptic Christians in Libya and released a video of their execution one month later.
The video, which stunned the world, shows the Christian men in orange jumpsuits kneeling on the sand as IS radicals stood behind them, ready to carry out the executions at a beach near Tripoli.
The 21 Copts are being remembered as the "martyrs of Libya," because they were killed specifically for their Christian faith and last year were officially registered in the book of martyrs by Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II.