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More ISIS Executions

from the February 09, 2015 eNews issue
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ISIS execution

ISIS has made news again with some very public—and very brutal executions. This time though, they may have gone too far.

Islamic State militants have beheaded a Japanese journalist, according to video released January 20 on the Internet, ending a drama that has gripped Japan and jolted another close U.S. ally, Jordan.

“When Japanese government, you, like your stupid satanic coalition allies must understand that we, by the grace of God, we are an Islamic caliphate with authority and power, a blood-thirsty army,” [sic] says the ISIS executioner before the beheading.

Did anyone believe they wouldn’t do it?

Execution of Goto

The grisly slaying of Kenji Goto, 47, an experienced war correspondent triggered outrage around the world and an outpouring of grief and indignation in Japan, a nation that has generally been insulated from events in the Middle East.

“We are deeply saddened by this despicable and horrendous act of terrorism, and we denounce it in the strongest terms,” a stricken Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters in Tokyo shortly after the video appeared on the Internet. “I feel heartbreaking pain.”

ISIS, which has been suffering battlefield reverses, has used the hostages as leverage against key U.S. partners in the Middle East and Asia.

In the graphic video confirming Goto’s slaying, the black-clad executioner declares, “So let the nightmare for Japan begin.”

The scenario was a familiar one, only this time the hostages were both Japanese nationals and the kidnappers demanded that the Japanese government pay a $200 million ransom within 72 hours.

Although the Islamic State has held both hostages for months, the release of the video was timed to coincide with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s six-day tour of the Middle East and featured footage of the politician as an introduction.

Washington’s Reaction

In Washington, President Obama denounced the killing as a “barbaric act,” and renewed his vow to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the Sunni Islamist extremist group.

According to U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, the beheading of Goto a week ago demonstrated Islamic State’s “brutality and extremist agenda.”

The pair was taken hostage last year during trips to rebel-held parts of northern Syria. It has been suggested that the journalist Goto may have entered Syria in October in part to find another Japanese citizen, Haruna Yukawa, who had been detained there in August and has also been beheaded.

ISIS has gained notoriety, and publicity, with for its ritualized beheadings, including the executions of three Americans: journalists James Foley, Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig.

The hostage drama became a major challenge for the Japanese government, which set up a crisis center in Amman, Jordan, while daily vigils were held in Tokyo urging his captors to free Goto. The killing dominated talk shows Sunday morning in Japan.

Abe’s Reaction

Abe’s trip began in Egypt on Jan. 17 with a pledge of $200 million in Japanese assistance for countries fighting the Islamic State. The ISIS video drew a clear parallel to this pledge, with the spokesman saying that the assistance plan was evidence of a Japanese “crusade” against the group.

Prime Minister Abe vowed that Japan “will never give in to terrorism” and pledged to expand humanitarian aid to the Middle East.

Abe’s tour was not a typical diplomatic mission to the Middle East. Japan’s initiative into Middle East affairs is part of a national effort to become more involved in global diplomacy, but as they have found, it comes at a cost.

At Goto’s execution, a black-clad, knife-wielding figure, addressing the Japanese government, declared that he represents “an entire army thirsty for your blood” as he hovers over the man identified as Goto, according to a transcript released by the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors militant Web traffic.

The executioner then directly addresses Abe, whom the speaker accuses of joining the “Satanic coalition” against ISIS:

“Abe, because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found.”

Japan’s Response

Japan is not going to resort to bombing Syria or sending troops to assist against the Islamic State. However, it is also unlikely that Tokyo will back down from providing $200 million assistance package.

The recent killing of a Japanese citizen will condition how Japan proceeds with re-normalization and the gradual rebuilding of its military as a tool of foreign policy, especially with regard to the Middle East.

A Huge Mistake?

Another execution though may signal the beginning of the end for ISIS as an effective force in the region.

ISIS released a video showing the execution of captive Jordanian pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, who appears in the video being burned alive while held in a cage.

Jordan has been attempting to negotiate his release in exchange for would-be suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi, imprisoned by Jordan under a sentence of death since participating in an attack on the Radisson Hotel in Amman in 2005.

Efforts to secure the release of Kaseasbeh ended when ISIS stuffed him in a cage, doused him with petroleum, and set him on fire.

The UK Daily Mail reports that negotiations for his release were still in progress when he was killed, the major sticking point being ISIS’ refusal to provide Jordan with proof that their pilot was still alive.

Jordan’s King Abdullah had an unexpectedly visceral response. After receiving news of the execution, Abdullah vowed an “earth-shaking response” to the killing of the pilot and a “relentless” war against ISIS on their own territory.

He did not stop there.

“Dirty Abdullah”?

“He said there is going to be retribution like ISIS hasn’t seen,” said Republican Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr., a Marine Corps veteran of two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, who was in the meeting with the king. “He mentioned [the movie] ‘Unforgiven’ and Clint Eastwood, and he actually quoted a part of the movie.”

It is believed he quoted the following line from the film:

“Any man I see out there, I’m gonna kill him. Any [expletive] takes a shot at me, I’m not only going to kill him, I’m going to kill his wife and all his friends and burn his d*** house down.”

On hearing word of the pilot’s death, Jordan immediately hanged two ISIS-linked prisoners Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouli.

Al-Rishawi had been sentenced to death after her 2005 role in a triple hotel bombing that killed 60 people in Amman orchestrated by al-Qaida in Iraq. Al-Karbouli was sent to death row in 2008 for plotting terror attacks on Jordanians in Iraq.

“We are waging this war to protect our faith, our values and human principles and our war for their sake will be relentless and will hit them in their own ground,” state television quoted the king as saying during a security meeting.

“He’s ready to get it on,” Hunter said of King Abdullah. “He really is. It reminded me of how we were after 9/11.

“We were ready to give it to them … He’s angry,” Hunter added. “They’re starting more sorties tomorrow than they’ve ever had.”

And then Hunter added, ‘The only problem we’re going to have is running out of fuel and bullets.’”

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