Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Why are we surprised by ISIS’s inhuman cruelty? | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
Select Page
Media ID: 55341119

Jordanian students hold a sign reading in Arabic, ‘You will stay a Falcon’ and pictures of Muath al-Kassasbeh, the Jordanian pilot being held by ISIS in Syria, during a support rally at Jordan University, Amman in Amman on 3 February, 2015. (EPA)

It is as if we have suddenly woken up to the brutality and barbarism of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). As if, prior to this, we expected ISIS to reduce the level of its aggressiveness. As if the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Muadh Al-Kasasbeh by ISIS contradicts the writings and ethics of this terrorist group.

It is not the brutality and barbarism of ISIS that is astonishing and surprising; rather it is the fact that we ever believed that the terrorist group would cease to shock us with its unreasonable and illogical crimes.

The story of ISIS, in short, is one of a group that has shown limitless immorality, sadism and brutality in its dealings with everybody. Even its own members, when they show any signs of dissent, are slaughtered. The burning alive of the Jordanian pilot Muadh Al-Kasasbeh is one more link in a chain of acts by ISIS that contradict human nature. Nevertheless, some continue to turn a blind eye to this under the pretext that the group is fighting kuffar (infidels) or rafidaa (so-called Shi’ite “rejectionists”), or is defending “vulnerable Sunnis”.

They enslaved, raped and stoned women to death and slaughtered men in a manner endorsed by no religion. Hundreds of tragic accounts and recordings documenting ISIS crimes have been published on social networking sites. This glorifying of their crimes is just another example of how this group’s terrorist acts have no limit. Those who think silence, neutrality or implicit sympathy will protect them from ISIS’s evil are destined to be burnt by its fire and become victims of its terrorism.

Looking at the regional and international stances towards terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria, such as Al-Qaeda, the Al-Nusra Front, ISIS and dozens of others who share similar ideologies—albeit with different details—it is clear that some are adapting their own positions and responses based on their own interests. For instance, the West did not move to take any action until it saw, with its own eyes, how its interests were being harmed as terrorist groups spread beyond the territory they had previously been confined to. Other governments are still hesitant to get involved in the fight against terrorism, believing that they are exercising political pragmatism. In fact, some governments have even opened back-channels with these groups, oblivious to the fact that, sooner or later, they will be burnt by the fire that they are playing with. Moreover, their current approach eliminates any room to fully extinguish this fire.

When Saudi Arabia launched a relentless war on Al-Qaeda extremists, the international response were superficial: “It is a Saudi war; it is nothing to do with us.” When the Kingdom warned that allowing Bashar Al-Assad’s government to remain in power and failing to arm moderate Syrian rebels would allow terrorist groups to grow and develop and threaten the region, the world turned a deaf ear until this became a fait accompli. When the international community finally decided to launch an international coalition against terrorism, Saudi Arabia once more emphasized that defeating ISIS must be linked to strengthening the forces of moderation, represented by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) as well as other moderate rebel factions, while not forgetting the need for boots on the ground. The world will procrastinate and delay, as usual, before deciding to truly confront the forces of evil on the ground, rather than just from the skies.

One Saudi preacher joined ISIS before breaking ranks with the terrorist group and turning himself in to the Kingdom’s authorities. He subsequently appeared on television to reveal that ISIS has claimed that all Saudis are infidels. ISIS has called on all Saudi nationals to “migrate to the land of Islam,” in reference to the group’s so-called Islamic emirate. So, are we still surprised by ISIS and their new religion? Can people in the West truly believe that ISIS has any relation to true Islam and true Muslims?

If the Kharijites (a 7th century faction of Muslims who rejected the caliphates of both Ali Ibn Abi Talib and the rival caliphate of Muawiyah I) were still around to witness ISIS’s barbarism, they would say: “They are the true kharijites (meaning ‘those who went out’), not us.”