Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The calculated madness of the Islamic State’s horrifying brutality

By Terrence McCoy — August 12 at 6:40 AM, WashPost

Last week, as the forces of the Islamic State crept within 40 miles of Irbil, fear settled over the urbane Kurdish capital. People had heard of the militants’ brutality — of the crucifixions, the beheadings, the mass killings. They were understandably frightened, Kurdish journalist Namo Abdulla told The Washington Post. Some began to flee. Others made for the mountains. The killers were coming.

In the last week, images of the Islamic State’s savagery have been inescapable. News exploded yesterday of an image of a young boy, son to an Australian member other of the Islamic State, hoisting a severed head beside his proud father.

“This image, perhaps even an iconic photograph … really one of the most disturbing, stomach-turning, grotesque photographs ever displayed,” Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday morning. “A seven-year-old child holding a severed head, with pride and the support and encouragement of the parent, with brothers there. This is utterly disgraceful and underscores the degree to which [the Islamic State] is so far beyond the pale with respect to any standard by which we judge even terrorist groups.”

The glorification of extreme violence using social media is one of the defining aspects of the Islamic State. The Sunni militants wield savagery like a tool, analysts say. It’s neither extemporaneous nor undisciplined. It’s concerted. It’s tactical. It’s evil. And that’s the point. “There’s a strategic reason behind the executions,” wrote the Washington Institute’s Aaron Zelin. “And the gruesome pictures posted online for all to see.”

(More here.)

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