Revulsion at IS horror video

Revulsion at IS horror video
An Islamic State video purporting to show the mass beheading of Syrian soldiers and a US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, has been greeted with revulsion and disgust.
3 min read
17 November, 2014
The Kassig family have pleaded with IS to spare Abdul-Rahman Peter's life (Getty)

An Islamic State propaganda video showing the brutal murder of at least 18 Syrian soldiers, and what appeared to be the severed head of US aid worker Abdul-Rahman Peter Kassig, has been met with widespread condemnation and revultion. 

"Pure evil"

The 15-minute video features a choreographed scene that depicted the graphic killing of what IS claimed were Syrian soldiers.

Each prisoner was led by an IS militant, who took knives out of a wooden box as they walked into position, before decapitating their victims simultaneously.

The mass execution was led by a masked British-accented militant, who has appeared in previous IS videos beheading Western hostages.

The militant then appears standing

     Abdul-Rahman [Peter Kassig] was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity.
- Barack Obama

over what he says is the severed head of Kassig, 26, a former US soldier who had come to Syria to aid those affected by the war in the country. He is believed to have converted to Islam while in captivity, and changed his given name to Abdul-Rahman.

US President Barack Obama called the killing of Kassig "pure evil".

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and humanitarian commissioner Christos Stylianides  also condenmend the killing and renewed what they described as the European Union's commitments to fighting IS.

A Turning point?

Air strikes by the US-led coalition against IS appear to have prevented the group from continuing its expansion, following its spectacular success earlier when it take large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq.

More than 700 IS fighters are

     [IS] appears disjointed and off-balance.
- Soufan Group

 said to have been killed in the Syrian town of Kobane, in what seems to be an as of yet fruitless effort to take the largely Kurdish town near the Turkish border.

Analysts say that IS' latest video, and the level of brutality shown in it, may be evidence of the group's nervousness.

"The Islamic State remains a potent force, especially to the millions suffering under its rule in Syrian and Iraq, but the group appears disjointed and off-balance," the Soufan Group think tank said in a briefing paper.

"The group has abandoned its disciplined messaging and is now throwing the rhetorical equivalent of the kitchen sink at both its supporters and opponents," it said.

Officials in Washington and elsewhere have suggested that IS may have at least peaked, if not started to retreat, following the expansion phase that came with its June Iraq offensive and subsequent proclamation of an Islamic "caliphate".

The  IS video underscored the transnational element of IS, and its expansionist aims.

The video opens with a world map that showed areas loyal to the group in Muslim-majority countries and elsewhere.

"The faces of the executioners being shown are clearly of different nationalities, which is a way of illustrating the group's international composition," said Aymenn al-Tamimi, a fellow at the Middle East Forum who is an expert on jihadist groups. 

'International support'
The ability of the Iraqi armed forces to take back areas of Iraq under the control of IS, including the major northern city of Mosul and the western province of Anbar, was questioned, however, by a senior Iraqi lawmaker.   Shawan Mohammed Taha, memeber of the parliament's defence committee, argued that his country's forces are not yet ready to wrest control of Mosul and other areas from IS.

     The [Iraqi] government is talking about taking over some villages and rural areas, that does not count as a success.
- Shwan Muhammad Taha, Iraqi official

Taha called for “a comprehensive security strategy to combat IS and get rid of it, cleansing all Iraqi cities under its control”. He said that “this strategy cannot be implemented effectively by depending on Iraqi forces alone… This needs international support.” - 

"The government is talking about taking over some villages and rural areas, that does not count as a success," Taha said.