Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh

ISIS’s barbaric murder of the Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, brings a new degree of spectacle and horror to the reality that is Islamic aggression.

With the extended world becoming increasingly inured to the phenomena of beheadings, leave it to Islamic State to dream up new, more innovative ways to torture and murder someone.

Probably the most important takeaway from this horror show: Jordan, one of the more ‘moderate’ Arab states in the region, and a strong U.S. ally, has no problem with ‘eye for an eye’ justice and isn’t hindered by pie-in-the-sky strictures against the profound societal need for revenge in such matters. From FNC:

Several media outlets reported that Jordan moved swiftly following the video’s surfacing, transferring at least three imprisoned jihadists, including al-Rishawi and Ziad Al-Karbuli, a former aide to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian Al Qaeda operative who was killed in 2006, in preparation for execution, perhaps within hours. Lebanon-based news channel Al Mayadeen nreported that Jordan intends to execute Al-Rishawi at dawn on Wednesday.

The Daily Beast reports:

Hours after ISIS released a video showing Jordanian pilot Muadh al-Kasasbeh being burned alive, Jordan announced it would execute a female terrorist in reponse. Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be suicide bomber who’s been on death row since 2005, will die tonight. ISIS had demanded Rishawi’s freedom last month in exchange for Kasasbeh and Japanese hostage Kenji Goto’s lives. (Turns out ISIS killed Kasasbeh while it was barganing with Jordan, anyway.) “The revenge will be as big as the calamity that has hit Jordan,” a Jordanian army spokesman said in a televised statement. Another spokesman said that Jordan will deliver a “strong, earth-shaking and decisive” response. King Abdullah made a televised address to his country from Washington, D.C. where he was visiting Congress and President Obama.

Meanwhile, The Organizer’s idea of what to do when ISIS strikes at the West is to… release more Gitmo detainees.

Describing the snuff film theatrics of al-Kaseasbeh’s murder, and then putting the al-Kaseasbeh atrocity into a larger context, Tom Rogan has a poignant post on the spectacle of this episode and what lessons we ought to draw from it:

Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh saved many lives. Serving against the Islamic State (ISIS), he helped prevent the slaughter of thousands of innocent men. He helped prevent the capture and sexual slavery of thousands of women. And he helped preserve the better future of thousands of children. His time on earth was well spent, struggling against a death cult…

The video is Islamic State propaganda 101: technically slick, deliberately slow, and utterly sadistic. It begins with Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh, wearing an orange jumpsuit and with a black eye, describing the coalition against ISIS. With graphical overlays, IS emphasizes the coalition’s multinational quality. IS asserts that the coalition is a “crusader” army. Next, the video shows what the Islamic State claims are civilian casualties of coalition airstrikes. Lieutenant Kasasbeh is then filmed walking along a rubble-strewn street. His eyes raised to the sky, the lieutenant is surrounded by masked men in uniform — ISIS wants to portray itself as a functioning state — who are watching him silently. The lieutenant gazes at the rubble. Another overlay of purported airstrike footage is shown. The jihadist message is clear: This man is guilty of murder, and now he will face legitimate justice.

Then the horror begins. Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh is shown standing in a cage, his jumpsuit blotted with gasoline. One of the masked men readies a torch next to a line of gasoline. Then, in typical ISIS form (see my other assessments of IS propaganda here, here, and here), the camera repeatedly flashes back and forth between the torch and Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh. This sadism is deliberate: IS takes immense pleasure in the anticipation of brutal murder. Then the murderer lights the gasoline. Jihadist music playing in the background, and Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh is engulfed in flames. The Islamic State video does not edit out the lieutenant’s agony. Instead, it celebrates the grisly scene. As the lieutenant dies, the music rises in crescendo. The video concludes with bounty offers to anyone who murders another coalition pilot.

We must always remember Moaz al-Kasasbeh for the courage he showed in life, but we must also pay heed to the ideology that motivated such a terrible murder. For one, the video’s musical crescendo, increasing till the murder is carried out, isn’t accidental. Instead, it give a clear idea of the world that the Islamic State seeks to build — one in which individual humanity is subjugated to theological absolutism, where misery is the glorious marker of purity, and where only the “faithful” can hope to escape terror and death.


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