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A Real-Life Horror Film - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Like many others in this troubled region, I am obsessed with images and sounds.

However, the images that haunt me today could be the most troublesome and gruesome of all.

Usually images of murder and blood cause me to turn away or even hide behind a pillow; however the story behind these particular images forced me to resist turning away and to see things for myself and now I struggle to rid these images from my mind.

According to various news reports, Pakistani media released video footage showing Taliban militants encouraging a 12-year-old boy to behead a Pakistani man under the pretext that he was an American spy.

The news was not a satanic illusion!

A quick search on the Internet generates a three-minute video that shows an unidentified boy surrounded by masked militants, presumably from the Taliban.

The only participant whose face was visible during the footage is that of the 12-year-old boy, who, during the filming, does his best to appear older by altering his voice and adopting adult mannerisms while dressed in a loosely fitting military uniform.

And to top it off, the boy wore a white headband with the words “There is no God but Allah and Mohammed is his messenger.”

Brandishing a knife bigger than his own arm, the boy did not falter as everyone around him cheered and encouraged him in a deliberate effort to guarantee that the child did not lose his nerve.

The boy did not let down his audience, declaring the blindfolded man an American spy then beheading him as the spectators, (some of them children) shouted out, “God is great.”

It was a real-life horror film.

Not only was it terrifying to watch the beheading of a human being, but to push a child to commit the savage act was agonizing.

What was even more gruesome was the filming [of the murder], and the broadcasting of the footage for publicity.

Inspired by the “Al Qaeda” and “al Zarqawi” traditions, the execution was always the focus of the camera—the child’s appearance and speech in front of the camera, the hiding of faces by the other present militants showing the boy’s face only, and the ending of the video by raising the victim’s severed head and warning that others would share the same fate.

If there had been no image or videotape, would the idea of instigating the child to commit this act have been practical to those responsible for it?!

The video footage is being circulated through the Internet.

The disavowal by some Al Qaeda figures who denied their involvement does not suffice. Al Qaeda, which has become an ideology and a way of thinking rather than an organization, has established its own violent culture and this video is a mere manifestation of this sick culture.

Let us set aside the excuses of hiding behind major conspiracies.

This video and the acts of the featured individuals are critical issues that raise great concern, the scope of which is not confined to its time or the individuals involved. It is true that several armed conflicts and disputes in Africa and Asia were not deterred from using children in such a horrific manner; however, the content of this video is on another level and the debates that coincided with its posting signify its seriousness. Here one cannot overlook the numerous comments that denounced the tape and those behind it; yet, it was welcomed and praised considerably, and going through the names and countries of those who expressed their support shows the extent to which they live among and around us.

It is a serious incident, the debate over which is yet to start.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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