A veiled woman listens to a heavily bearded fanatic. Standing alongside him is an elderly man. In the background, another masked man shuffles casually, as if he’s waiting for a bus. Other armed men lurk all around. Watching. Waiting.
Welcome to the Islamic State’s latest offering to humanity: the videoed stoning of a young woman.
The video begins with the bearded fanatic, the judge, outlining the crime allegedly committed by the victim: adultery. With gleeful excitement, the judge encourages the elderly man, the victim’s father, to condemn and disown her. He obliges, waving his hand in disdain as his young daughter begs for her life. He then abandons her and walks off to join those waiting in the background. They comfort him for his courage.
The judge continues. He rants about sharia law and the responsibilities of women who live under the Islamic State. He explains the need for women to subjugate themselves to the will of God. He then forces the woman to beg forgiveness one more time and repent. Next, he explains that, as in this case, when a husband is absent from his wife for a long period of time, Satan will enter a woman’s heart. Men must keep a close eye on their wives.
The show trial over, the woman, leashed like a dog, is led by her father to a hole in the ground. As she’s tied to the bottom of the pit, other Islamic State fanatics gather around her. It’s feeding time.
As the victim murmurs quiet prayers, the Islamic State begins to throw stones at her head. They do so with ferocious energy, clearly taking great satisfaction in their murder of an unarmed woman. For a short while, the woman cries out in pain. But then, as she falls silent, a jihadist soundtrack offers an ordained climax as the stone throwers complete their deed.
And for the Islamic State, this is a beautiful deed. Once again, they have purified the earth of evil. The Islamic State clearly cared little that this woman had essentially been abandoned by her husband. For al-Baghdadi’s hordes, women will always ultimately be the property of men. The victim’s death leash signifies this understanding.
Yet we must take serious note of this video. As I’ve written before, Islamic State propaganda thrives on the celebration of misery and murder. But to me at least, this video is especially instructive. In the deliberately slow buildup, the utter disregard for the woman’s voice, and the blood-baying crowd waiting to strike, the video takes us inside the heart of the Islamic State’s ideology: a heart of true, unmitigated darkness.
We must urgently face up to this reality. While some, absurdly, claim that the Islamic State is driven by Western foreign policy or domestic security policies, in reality it is a death cult led by a psychopath. It attracts young men, because it offers a cause of ordained purpose within the broader rot of political Islam, a rot especially catastrophic for women’s rights. We must recognize this rot rather than, as Reza Aslan and many others do, minimize it.
And until the United States government wakes up and smashes the Islamic State into history, these stone murderers will continue their westward march of sex slavery, tyranny, and murder. Their mission clear, and they won’t rest until the whole world is buried in their rotting pit of theological absolutism — or until they are stopped.
— Tom Rogan is a columnist for the Daily Telegraph and a contributor to The McLaughlin Group. He holds the Tony Blankley Chair at the Steamboat Institute, is based in Washington, D.C., and tweets @TomRtweets.