National Security & Defense

Another ISIS Atrocity

Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh is burned alive.

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.

Yet, by the way in which it has murdered him, the Islamic State has again made clear what choice it offers to the world: slavery or death. After flirting with the prospect of a prisoner trade, the Islamic State has released their latest snuff video to signal its hatred for compromise. It’s possible this video was filmed over a week ago, when “compromise” was still supposedly under discussion.

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.

We must take note of the latest video installation in ISIS’s catalog of atrocities. Driven by its global mission of Salafi-Jihadism, the Islamic State is advancing across the world. It will not yield to our blind optimism. Be under no illusions: At the strategic level, our current efforts are failing. Moreover, the fanatics are advancing westward. Shrouded in self-assumed holiness, the Islamic State believes it will achieve global dominion.

The path we must take is hard but clear. Paying heed to the good life of Moaz al-Kasasbeh, we must finish his fight and rid the world of those who murdered him.

Tom Rogan, based in Washington, D.C., writes for the Daily Telegraph. He’s a panelist on The McLaughlin Group and holds the Tony Blankley Chair at the Steamboat Institute. He tweets @TomRtweets.

Tom Rogan is a columnist for National Review Online, a contributor to the Washington Examiner, and a former panelist on The McLaughlin Group. Email him at TRogan@McLaughlin.com

Most Popular

U.S.

First, Restore Order

Doing evil in the service of a just cause does not change either side of the moral equation: Evil remains evil, and the just cause remains just — neither consideration cancels out the other or transmutes it. With riots and violence convulsing American cities after the horrifying death of George Floyd at the ... Read More
U.S.

First, Restore Order

Doing evil in the service of a just cause does not change either side of the moral equation: Evil remains evil, and the just cause remains just — neither consideration cancels out the other or transmutes it. With riots and violence convulsing American cities after the horrifying death of George Floyd at the ... Read More
Elections

Trump in Trouble

President Trump was disappointed. Bad weather on Wednesday forced a delay in SpaceX's planned launch of the Dragon spacecraft, robbing the president of a prized photo opportunity. He plans to attend the next launch, scheduled for May 30 at 3:22 p.m. EDT, but the spoiled visit to Florida punctuated another week of ... Read More
Elections

Trump in Trouble

President Trump was disappointed. Bad weather on Wednesday forced a delay in SpaceX's planned launch of the Dragon spacecraft, robbing the president of a prized photo opportunity. He plans to attend the next launch, scheduled for May 30 at 3:22 p.m. EDT, but the spoiled visit to Florida punctuated another week of ... Read More

Tired of ‘Winning’ Yet?

I’ve never really thought of Mark Steyn as a Palestinian suicide bomber before. You’ll want some context. Steyn, a wonderful writer and former National Review colleague, was filling in for Rush Limbaugh a few weeks ago, and he made the case for using antitrust law to bully technology platforms such as ... Read More

Tired of ‘Winning’ Yet?

I’ve never really thought of Mark Steyn as a Palestinian suicide bomber before. You’ll want some context. Steyn, a wonderful writer and former National Review colleague, was filling in for Rush Limbaugh a few weeks ago, and he made the case for using antitrust law to bully technology platforms such as ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Is It Revolution?

I knew I was tempting fate a week ago when I said that the coming nomination of Joe Biden and the COVID-19 pandemic had put America’s politics on chill during this election year. Little did I know that days later we’d be making analogies to 1968. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman moved ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Is It Revolution?

I knew I was tempting fate a week ago when I said that the coming nomination of Joe Biden and the COVID-19 pandemic had put America’s politics on chill during this election year. Little did I know that days later we’d be making analogies to 1968. The killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis policeman moved ... Read More
PC Culture

For Looters, Looting Is Fun

One important thing to realize about looting is that it's usually enjoyable for those engaged in it, who exult in the momentary suspension of any rules. Just a couple of examples from the last couple of days (language ... Read More
PC Culture

For Looters, Looting Is Fun

One important thing to realize about looting is that it's usually enjoyable for those engaged in it, who exult in the momentary suspension of any rules. Just a couple of examples from the last couple of days (language ... Read More