British Executioner Identified – Is He Just Another Distraction?

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U.S. officials announced this week that they have identified the man in the mask. ISIS largely came to the forefront of the American consciousness because of three videos the group has released, each of them demonstrating this group’s commitment to terror and ideological fervor. The videos have captured the execution-style beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker, and all three have been “hosted” by a masked terrorist speaking with what sounds like a British accent.

James Comey, the director of the FBI, said Thursday that officials were not ready to reveal the man’s name or any other identifying information. It is also unclear whether officials believe that the “executioner” in the videos is actually the man who murdered James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and David Haines

It’s understandable why there has been so much focus on this individual. It came as a shock to many Americans that someone so seemingly educated and non-Arab could carry out these atrocities. As he has been the most personal face of ISIS Americans have been exposed to, it’s only natural that he become Public Enemy #1.

In the end, however, ISIS doesn’t begin and end with one man. And if it does, it certainly isn’t the British executioner. We must be careful not to be led down the primrose path, a mistake we made to some degree when it came to Osama Bin Laden. While Bin Laden was a much more important kill for the U.S. than would be this spokesman, he was still not the end-all, be-all of al Qaeda. That they continue to exist – albeit in splintered form – this many years after his death is proof of that.

Obama is a master of distraction, though, and that’s something worth remembering when it comes to this situation in the Middle East. Even while America is embroiled in war with ISIS terrorists, Obama seems more focused on matters of climate change. Since the beginning of his presidency, he has played on his charisma to make up for the lack of substance in his policies. Though exposed on numerous occasions as being fervently anti-gun, he pretends to be a big fan of firearms whenever it’s time to push through another piece of 2nd Amendment-withering legislation.

For the most part, though, this is a distraction ISIS itself has created. They really didn’t need any help from the administration. Those videos were so harrowing, sensational, and personal that they instantly enraged anyone who watched them. That a group of murderous thugs would be willing to saw off a human being’s head to make a point defies rational explanation.

But therein lies the point. ISIS isn’t one guy wearing a ninja hood. It’s an army that, according to some estimates, could be 100,000 strong. To get caught up in this one symbol of their evil is to miss the big picture.

I’ll celebrate as loudly as anyone when Jihadi John winds up on the receiving end of a tomahawk missile, but don’t forget that there are thousands waiting to take his place.