The bloodthirsty barbarity of ISIS has reached a new low. A video released by the Islamic terror group shows captured Jordanian pilot, First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, inside a cage. A trail of lit gasoline eventually engulfs him in flame, burning him alive.
Yesterday, this exercise in brute savagery was confirmed by the Jordanian government. They revealed that al-Kasasbeh was killed more than a month ago on Jan. 3, less than two weeks after his F-16 fighter jet went down over northern Syria on Dec. 24.
This reality put a full stop on ISIS’s attempt to exchange al-Kasasbeh and remaining Japanese hostage Kenji Goto for Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi women who worked for al Qaeda. Al-Rishawi spent her honeymoon planning a 2005 terrorist attack ultimately carried out by her husband, who killed 27 guests at a Jordanian wedding when he detonated an explosive vest he was wearing. Al-Rishawi has spent the last nine years in self-imposed solitary confinement in Jordan’s Juweidah Women’s Prison. ISIS demanded her release, using an audio clip from Goto to deliver the message. “This is a voice message I’ve been told to send to you,” Goto stated. “If Sajida al Rishawi is not ready for exchange for my life at the Turkish border by Thursday sunset, 29th of January, Mosul time, the Jordanian pilot Muadh al Kasasbeh will be killed immediately.”
Jordan was willing to make the gargantuan concession, but talks broke down when they demanded “proof of life” for al-Kasabeh. ISIS failed to deliver that proof and followed up the breakdown in talks by releasing a video showing a knife being held to Goto’s throat, followed by his beheading. It was perpetrated by a masked terrorist clothed in black. Goto is the second of two Japanese hostages executed by ISIS. Haruna Yukawa was also decapitated by the terror group.
Jordanian armed forces spokesman Mamdouh al-Ameri read a statement on Jordanian TV in response to al-Kasabeh’s execution. “The military forces announce that the hero pilot, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, has fallen as a matryr, and ask God to accept him with the martyrs,” Ameri declared. “While the military forces mourn the martyr, they emphasize his blood will not be shed in vain. Our punishment and revenge will be as huge as the loss of the Jordanians.”
President Obama offered up his own response, one most charitably characterized as boilerplate. “Should this be authentic, it’s just one more indication of the viciousness and barbarity of this organization,” he told reporters. “It will redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of our global coalition to make sure they are degraded and ultimately defeated.”
As is too often the case with Obama, words remain infinitely malleable with regard to their meaning. Foreign Policy magazine reveals the State Department listed 62 countries as as members of the “global coalition to degrade and defeat ISIL,” as of Nov. 12. Yet they note the bar for inclusion on that list “is apparently fairly low,” and includes countries who are only “exposing ISIL’s true nature,” rather than taking a humanitarian, advisory or active role in defeating the terrorist army. Moreover ISIS continues to gain ground in Syria, completely undermining Obama’s belief that the nearly 800 airstrikes already undertaken against them will ultimately prove effective. “Yes, they have gained some ground. But we have stopped their momentum,” an unnamed Pentagon official told The Daily Beast in mid-January.
One is left to wonder how the Pentagon and the rest of the Obama administration defines momentum. ISIS’s propaganda campaign remains as lethal as ever. As the Daily Mail reports, the latest video appears to be “professionally shot and edited in the style of the horrific beheading videos” that have become ISIS’s trademark. Moreover, it resembles a “TV news report”—one where Kasabeh battles the flames engulfing him before falling to his knees still alive, until he finally falls backward on the floor of the cage.
As for the much-touted Syrian rebel groups Obama was ostensibly training to degrade and destroy ISIS, they have seen a cutoff, or substantial reduction in their money and supplies. Apparently the administration has belatedly discovered the forces it has supported may be ineffectual, corrupt, possibly willing to defect to ISIS or Syrian terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra—or any combination thereof.
The Wall Street Journal succinctly sums up current reality. “Entire CIA-backed rebel units, including fighters numbering in the ‘low hundreds’ who went through the training program, have changed sides by joining forces with Islamist brigades, quit the fight or gone missing,” the paper reveals.
Queen Rania, wife of Jordan’s King Abdullah, has apparently adopted a Westernized posture in response to Islamist atrocities. She sent an image of the executed pilot to her 400,000 Instagram followers with the caption, “We are all Moaz” written in Arabic. The Jordanian government, however, is taking a far less nuanced approach: they have moved six ISIS-linked captives to a prison usually reserved for state executions, and confirmed that al-Rishawi’s execution is scheduled to take place early today.
David L. Phillips, a former senior adviser to the State Department on peace-building efforts in Iraq, and currently a director at Columbia University’s Institute for the Study of Human Rights, stated the obvious with regard to ISIS. “They have raised the bar in terms of brutality,” he said. “It further polarizes them from other Muslims and from the international community.”
So what? Since when has ISIS ever been concerned with anyone or anything that doesn’t advance its barbaric agenda? And when is the West going to figure out that every day ISIS remains a murderously viable, propaganda-spewing entity is another day Western nations must address an increasing number of domestic Islamist wannabes? Wannabes looking to “one-up” the atrocities already perpetrated in Canada, Australia, France and the United States. The “degrade and destroy” catchphrase mindlessly reiterated by Obama, along with the promise made by the likes of White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan to “stand in solidarity” with the latest victims of Islamist barbarity, ring exceedingly hollow.
Angelo M. Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University and former professional staff member of the Select Committee on Intelligence of the United States Senate, speaks to a reality Western leaders do not want to hear. “Killing the IS (ISIS) requires neither more nor less than waging war—not as the former administration waged its ‘war on terror,’ nor by the current administration’s pinpricks, nor according to the too-clever-by-half stratagems taught in today’s politically correct military war colleges, but rather by war in the dictionary meaning of the word,” he writes. “To make war is to kill the spirit as well as the body of the enemy, so terribly as to make sure that it will not rise again, and that nobody will want to imitate it.”
Right now Obama and countless other world leaders are far too willing to tolerate ISIS, one horrific video after another, along with its imitators, one “lone wolf” atrocity after another. Until that equation changes we are virtually assured that Islamist terror will thrive.