The latest ISIS video – which shows the brutal execution of several Syrian soldiers as well as American Muslim convert Peter Kassig – is the most gruesome, graphic and high-tech to date, writes Roshan Muhammed Salih.
As part of my journalistic research I had the displeasure of watching all 15 minutes of it and it left me feeling that this is an organization which feeds off hate, revels in blood and has no moral boundaries whatsoever.
In fact, I would go as far as to say that ISIS is probably the most powerful and most frightening internal threat to Islam and Muslim countries that has existed in modern times. They literally make Al Qaeda look like pussy cats.
I’d prefer the repressive dictatorships of Mubarak, Ben Ali and others over these homicidal maniacs who wear Islamic garb. At least the former imposed order while the latter thrive on destruction and anarchy.
These bloodthirsty killers pervert our great religion in the eyes of the world and they provide the perfect excuse for the West to destroy our nations.
And we need to eliminate them and the ideology they espouse before they burn the house of Islam down.
The ISIS video, released yesterday on internet forums, begins with a potted history of the rise of the Islamic State, starting with the Western invasion of Iraq, the al Qaeda insurgency led by Abu Musab al Zarqawi and inspired by Osama bin Laden, through to the establishment of the “Islamic State” under Abu Bakr al Baghdadi.
A special section is devoted to inciting hatred against the Shia who (according to the narration) have taken over Iraq as part of a “Safawi expansion” and are oppressing Sunnis.
The message is clear – the Shia must be made to pay for this and must be killed wherever they are found.
The video then cuts to images of Syrian government air raids and the destruction they cause, presumably as a means of justifying what happens next…
Handcuffed Syrian officers and pilots clad in black are led to their place of execution by ISIS fighters dressed in military fatigues. For the most part the fighters have their faces uncovered, most look Arab but one in particular looks like he’s from South East Asia.
This is the most highly stylized section of the video with advanced use of close-ups, slow-motion and sound effects as the fighters pick up their execution knives from a box.
The 18 soldiers are then made to kneel as their killers stand behind them with daggers drawn. In the middle stands “Jihadi John” who threatens to slaughter “the soldiers of Obama” just as he is about to execute the “soldiers of Bashar.” He also threatens David Cameron that his people “will be slaughtered on the streets.”
Now we get to the blood-curdling main scene where the soldiers are beheaded.
Everything is shown in gory detail and in a highly stylized manner which includes moments of tense silence, the heavy breathing of the victims, the piercing stare of Jihadi John and close-ups of severed heads and rivers of blood.
By this point even hardened observers of death and destruction will be left cold but it’s not over yet.
The video cuts to a map of the Middle East and North Africa predicting the expansion of the “Islamic State” into Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sinai, Libya and Algeria. And the final scene features Jihadi John once more standing over Peter Kassig’s severed head as he taunts the “crusaders” to come to Iraq and Syria to meet their graves.
The almost unbelievable actions of ISIS and the fact that they are very proud of their crimes has left many of us confused.
In a Facebook post yesterday prominent American preacher Yasir Qadhi even speculated that the “phenomenon of ISIS is simply too bizarre to explain.”
He said: “The abrupt suddenness of its appearance; its quick success; its funding; the quantity of arms it has; its managing of oil fields and selling oil on the black market; its issuance of a new currency; and most significantly, its utterly bizarre and twisted method of operating – all of this really and truly makes me doubt whether other entities don’t have a hand and are behind all this…
“Their latest victim was Abdur Rahman Kassig, a convert to Islam who was so passionate about his faith that he became an aid worker and travelled to Syria to help our Muslim brethren and refugees.
“His conversion, and dedication, to Islam has been attested by his Muslim friends, and by his parents. So, in this case, each and every argument that ISIS-supporters used to (mis)apply their understanding of Sharia fails: the fact of the matter is that ISIS brutally beheaded and murdered someone who says the kalimah. I would not be surprised if he was uttering the kalimah even as they barbarically slit his throat.
“I am becoming more open to the idea that the people running the show amongst ISIS are not Muslims at all, but rather those who wish to portray Islam in the worst possible light.
“One simple fact: before ISIS’s brutal beheadings, the American population was so weary of war that they did NOT want to send troops or get involved in the Syrian crisis. Now, after ISIS has beheaded so many Western citizens, public opinion has changed and it appears war is imminent. Coincidence? Or convenience? Allah knows best.”
However, with all due respect to Dr Qadhi I do not find the rise of ISIS hard to fathom at all – it is the natural consequence of Western invasions and destablisation projects; years of repressive dictatorship; and decades of Gulf financing of a “global takfiri” project.
We all know that the West has destroyed our countries and created the conditions for terrorists to thrive. And we all know that brutal, repressive dictators have radicalized countless Muslims all over the world. But there’s also something else at play here, something which many of us are still largely in denial about.
For decades now we have sat by and watched as Gulf money has completely perverted our religion, attempting to impose a monopoly on the truth and spreading sheer hatred for others. And ISIS is simply the most frightening expression of Saudi Arabia’s pernicious influence over Islam.
People will doubtless tell me that ISIS would love to serve the heads of the House of Saud on a platter too, and this is true. But the fact remains that certain Saudi theologians have laid the ground for the takfiri ideology that ISIS espouses, and Saudi intelligence has a long and complicated history of backing salafi jihadis one moment and killing them the next.
In short they have created a Frankenstein’s monster that may well one day consume them.
So, in conclusion, while fighting imperialism and opposing dictatorship must always be our priorities, all that will be pointless unless we fight imperialism’s bastard child – the takfiri menace.
We need an internal strategy to eradicate ISIS and the takfiri ideology in general, one that completely dissociates itself from the West and its agendas and only has the good of the Ummah at heart.
Ultimately that means we need to stop living in denial and get radical. And if we don’t we should all realise where we are heading.