Muslim extremists are using a relatively new tool in their attempt to intimidate and bully Christians, with death threats sent by text-messaging to Christian church leaders, a new report confirms.
The report comes from Compass Direct, which monitors and reports on Christian issues around the globe. The situation has developed in Sudan.
"We want this country to be purely an Islamic state, so we must kill the infidels and destroy their churches all over Sudan," Compass Direct sources in the African nation have reported that one text message said.
The texts were dispatched to leaders of at least 10 churches in the Khartoum area, and came in recent weeks, the report said.
Christian church leaders in the region have been at risk for years, even with the recent declaration of a new nation, South Sudan, which suggests some small level of separation from the Muslim-dominated north Sudan.
But sources for the ministry organization say that Islamists have continued to make targets out of Christians.
In fact, Muslim extremists from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh arrive every few weeks for training in secret camps before they are dispatched on various "missions" around Sudan to destroy Christians and their churches, according to sources inside Sudan.
According to the report, the threats also have come by letter, such as in the case of Bishop Andudu Adam Elnail of the Anglican Church of Sudan. He reported that Muslim extremists attacked his home, but the intended targets, Elnail and pastors Luka Bulus and Thomas Youhana, were all away from home at the time.
The assailants instead left a letter threatening similar attacks in the future, Compass Direct said.
"We are aware of your anti-Islamic activities," the letter left for Elnail said. "We have been monitoring the evangelization that you carry out these days, and therefore we declare jihad against you."
The threat was confirmed by Bulus, as was a house attack that happened in Omdurman.
Further, the attacks go beyond just threats, as Elnail's church building was burned in June, the report said.
One of the threats said, "We declare jihad against you in order to protect Muslims from your infidel influence, because you are the enemy of Islam," sources told Compass Direct.
It elaborated with plans to carry out a series of church destruction missions.
Christian sources in Khartoum told Compass Direct they take the threats seriously.
"These people are not joking – they can kill any Christian," said a church leader who requested anonymity for security reasons.
Elnail was testifying before a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee recently when he said his prospects for life remained uncertain.
"I am told that armed men went house to house, searching for me, calling my name," the report said he told members of Congress.
A letter in Arabic was circulated to churches in Khartoum, just as a Lutheran Evangelical Church of the Sudan building was destroyed by flames.
A church response said, "The Muslims are targeting our church in fear that many Muslims will leave Islam for Christianity."