Burned Alive: The Latest ISIS Outrage

Apparently unsatisfied with the reaction thus far to their crimes against humanity, ISIS once again proved that there is no limit to their brutality. On Tuesday, the group released a video showing them burn a Jordanian pilot alive. Trapped in a cage, the pilot, believed to be Muadh al Kasasbeh, endured one of the most heinous murders ever depicted on film.

The pilot was kidnapped in Syria on December 24. While the Islamic State had tried to orchestrate a trade with Jordan – al Kasasbeh for female Al Qaeda operative Sajidi al Rishawi – experts say the Jordanian pilot was likely killed before such a trade was ever offered. In a hasty response to the video, Jordan executed both al Rishawi and another Al Qaeda fighter by the name of Ziad al Karbouli.

The main event of the slickly-produced video – the horrific immolation of the pilot – is perhaps not the most telling part. If ISIS has proven anything, it’s that they don’t have patience for subtlety. Such was the case in their latest release, where they warn Jordan against joining the U.S-led coalition against their fighters. After the execution part of the video, they offer a graphic detailing the alleged residences of 11 other Jordanian Air Force members. A statement tells the viewer that the Islamic State is offering 100 gold dinars to anyone who kills one of the named personnel.

“Good tidings to whoever supports his religion and achieves a kill that will liberate him from hellfire,” says the statement.

In their efforts, ISIS is clearly trying to drum up popular resistance to governments in the Middle East that join the U.S. in the fight against them. With their slick videos, their unprecedented barbarity, and their anti-Western stance, they have been successful in recruiting thousands of disaffected youths who are entranced by the imagery.

If the video was intended to force Jordan out of the picture, though, it was not successful. On the contrary, King Abdullah announced Tuesday that Jordan would increase the amount of money they were offering to the fight against the Islamic State. Meeting with President Obama in Washington, Abdullah signed a new memorandum of support, bumping up payments from $600 million a year to $1 billion.

It Is Time to Act

The actions of this group continue to defy the human imagination. Even the first class of Al Qaeda – Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri – struggled to reconcile their understanding of the Quran with their bloodthirst. That didn’t stop them from carrying out some of the worst atrocities in civilized history, but they at least seemed to have some fragile concept of conscience. There is not a piece of scripture in any holy book that can possibly be read to endorse what the Islamic State is doing. It is baffling that so many have joined them.

When it comes down to it, we have on our hands a collection of murderers no less dangerous than Hitler’s Nazis. And their war to create an Islamic Caliphate is no less a holocaust than that experienced by the Jews in the first half of the 20th century. Obama’s clean airstrike campaign, meant to keep American soldiers from harm, was a fine start. But it isn’t getting the job done.

I hope we don’t have to wait until the ISIS equivalent of Pearl Harbor to understand what we must do.

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