Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: ISIS’s Glorification of Terror | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Japanese journalist Kenji Goto (L) and Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh (R) were both captured by ISIS in Syria.

The barbaric and deviant nature of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), or indeed any other terrorist group spreading destruction and devastation, is clear for all to see. In all the footage of slaughter that members of these groups have posted—whether in Pakistan, Syria, Iraq or Europe—the abnormal, inhumane and un-Islamic mentality of those responsible for these crimes is as clear as day.

The appalling way in which Jordanian pilot Muadh Al-Kasasbeh was killed confirms the criminal mentality of those who planned and carried out this barbaric execution. However there are also indications that they took pleasure in and glorified these deviant practices, in a similar way to all aberrant criminals and professional killers.

Acts like this do not happen without preparation. It was clear that the perpetrators had thought through and prepared the stage for their crime, including obtaining all the required equipment and tools. This terrible crime was carefully filmed, and its announcement was followed by a carefully worded statement justifying it. They cherish murdering their victims in strange and unusual ways, basking in the horror and disgust that this no doubt elicits across the world. They deceive themselves into thinking that this will earn them power and prestige.

The manner in which ISIS executes its captives, from the first killings of Western journalists and aid workers to more recent events, indicate that its methods are becoming more and more shocking. This is because, simply put, horror and terror is ISIS’s main message and logic.

ISIS went even further this time by embedding their atrocious video with the names and addresses of Jordanian pilots it said are taking part in the international airstrikes against the extremist organization. It also alleged to offer a financial reward to anyone who manages to kill any of the pilots it has placed on this ‘Wanted’ list. The terrorist group is trying to give the impression that its alleged state is an entity with intelligence capabilities. It is unclear just how accurate this information is at this time, although even if it is correct it was most likely obtained from the Jordanian pilot himself through torture.

Jordan responded swiftly to the news of the pilot’s execution. Immediately following the release of the footage, Amman confirmed that its response would be “harsh” and “earth-shaking.” Jordanian authorities subsequently executed two terror convicts, Sajida Al-Rishawi and Ziyad Al-Karboli. Jordan had delayed the execution of Rishawi for eight years although she was sentenced to death in 2006 after being found guilty of taking part in terrorist attacks on three Amman hotels resulting in the death of 56 people.

The Jordanian authorities said ISIS had killed Kasasbeh on January 3, that is to say just a few days following his capture. This means that the terrorist group was lying when it claimed it was ready to release Kasasbeh in exchange for Rishawi. This only serves to confirm that it is impossible to rely on the words and promises of terrorists or negotiate with them. Those standing behind terrorism have sick mentalities and are armed with misguided ideology. The only solution is to fight terrorism relentlessly and defeat all those who adhere to its deviant ideologies.

The execution of Kasasbeh, particularly the brutal way in which this was carried out, could mark an important turning point in the war on ISIS. The widespread shock towards this death has served to turn even more people away from such groups and their practices, increasing support for the war against them. The other message that this crime sends to the world is that Muslims are also victims of terrorism. In fact, Muslims are the first victims of terrorism and every time that a Westerner or Asian is executed, you can be sure that more Muslim lives were claimed by less publicized acts of terrorism. The world should bear in mind that a few weeks before 17 civilians were killed in terrorist attacks in Paris at least 150 people, including 134 children, were killed in a Peshawar school massacre. Terrorist crimes claim Muslims’ lives in Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Somalia on a daily basis. If terrorist attacks have affected some Western countries, they have not spared the majority of Arab and Muslim countries.

Fighting terrorism requires international efforts involving more than just security and military operations but also fighting the misguided ideology that is held, and spread, by these terrorists. We must pursue their ideologies and drain their sources of funding if we want to truly defeat them. Terrorism cannot and will not be defeated if the international community solely focuses its efforts on ISIS in Iraq and Syria, disregarding what is happening in Libya and remaining silent on what terrorists are doing in Egypt. Neither will terrorism be crushed if attacks on Islam continue. These attacks only serve to provoke moderate Muslims and indeed create sympathy for the practices of extremists and terrorists. This is not to mention that they provide terror preachers and ideologues with weapons to attract Muslim youth who feel wronged and marginalized.

The war on terror requires broad international cooperation and a clear sense of discrimination between the terrorist minority and the one and a half billion Muslims who condemn terrorist ideology and declare themselves innocent of the obscene acts of ISIS and its ilk.