Guest Post: Losing Our Heads Over ISIS

A guest post by . Note that the remainder of the article over the break has a photo that could be disturbing for some:

The beheading of US photo-journalist James Foley of GlobalPost by a British heavily London-accented jihadist – now identified as a member of “the Beatles” troop – who had travelled to the Middle East to ‘fight’ for , changes everything. 

 A radicalized Briton has beheaded an innocent US journalist.

Think about that.

The jihadists are using innocent Europeans and Muslims who do not subscribe to their narrow religious cult with heinous brutality (80 Yazidi men ‘executed,’ their women and children sold into white slavery) as tools to conduct a psychological campaign of fear.  We call this “terrorism.”

It is designed to strike terror and is used as a weapon.

US journalist Stephen Sotloff is next.  The second in a sickening queue we will be forced to endure at the hand of these iSIS butchers.

Can journalists and Europeans function or even visit Muslim nations after this?

The Hamas tunnels in Israel (the latter so vehemently criticised and protested against by Internet/Mana rent-a-mobs in New Zealand last week) were designed as snatch holes. They want Israeli citizens, so they can be held, money extorted, or executed for propaganda purposes.

Now all and any Europeans are vulnerable to kidnapping, torture and beheading on camera for the purposes of propaganda. It does not matter who they are (they might be Olympic athletes in a Canadian Olympic village; perhaps a touring All Blacks team): simply non-jihadists and it’s better if they are Western and Christian.

What happens when this is done to a Western woman?  Or a celebrity?  The fuse of an international powder keg is burning.

This is like something out of the biblical Assyrian campaigns of Sennacherib’s terror across the ancient Middle

East: impalings, mass beheadings, mass slaughters, executions, torture, rape. etc. designed to create psychological awe.

Beheadings have a certain cultural oeuvre in the history and mentality of the extremist jihadi.  But they are not alone.

The head-hunting culture of the Samurai was inherent to their code of machismo and dominance. Same with the Vikings, and the Kings of England.  In 1890 a group of Chinese pirates attacked a western ship (the Namoa) and robbed everyone (including Chinese passengers) on board, and murdered the captain.  The response of the Hong Kong(British) authorities was to behead them when they were caught. This was done in Kowloon City on April 17th and May 11th of 1891, appropriately on the beach.


Execution of Chinese pirates in Kowloon city, 1891 for piracy by the Hong Kong authorities (under British governance).

The difference is, this the 21st century, not 13th century Japan, England in the 1540s, or 1891. This is barbaric behaviour. It is something a crazed mentally-disturbed serial killer would do.  But we cannot call all ISIS fighters crazed; they are simply evil. They’ve gone over to the dark side: inhumanity, killings, self-righteousness, brutality, framed by an ancient Islamic faith. It is not without reason that a raised saber is an international symbol of Islam, in the same way the Roman cross is of the West.  This is not new.  It is entirely how Islam was first spread. So, why are we surprised about the military culture of a revived militant Islam?

This is as much a religious struggle as a political or military one.   

It is not only a clash or radical Islam verses ‘Christianity’ (read “modern” or “Western”).  It is also a battle between savage barbarism and inhumanity verse the values of the West and of moderate Muslims (also victims in this creeping darkness). Public outrage, like that in Hong Kong over a century ago, will force Western governments to act.

We will have war.

It has taken a long time for the West to wake up to this.

The Israelis have been fighting it for decades.  But the James Foley beheading (not a clean samurai sword decapitation, but a grisly slow hacking through his neck with a small knife, like quartering a lamb shank) changes everything.

The UK is livid because of the British connection. US President Barack Obama’s weak foreign leadership is being exposed, as this kind of propaganda plays to the hawks of American sentiment. Obama’s politically correct fantasy of the  world and his own role in it:  his so-called “new beginning” with Islam proclaimed in Cairo; his “reset with Russia,”  his “global nuclear disarmament” declared in Prague, will be swept away for the hollow rhetoric it is.

More pressing realities are now knocking.

The ISIS criminality will galvanize the British (a tough lot when the crunch comes) and most Americans. Slowly the West will gather together like a big sleepy dog raising itself to swat an annoying cat.

ISIS has made a terrible misstep with James Foley’s murder.

They have declared themselves an army and the West as the enemy.  Like Germany invading Russia and declaring war on America, and the Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor, they radically underestimate the collective will and strength of the Western nations when we are compelled to act by a persistent and recalcitrant threat.

Austria, the Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia yes, but then came Poland. Germany reaped a whirlwind.

Incidents like Foley’s beheading are a flash point.  And like the anarchist assassination in Sarajevo in 1914, it represents a point of turning.  This is it.

But nations like Britain, France and America have another problem.  That of assimilation, and -like the internment of Japanese Americans during WWII – what to do with local muslims born and bred in their own nations who do, or do not, subscribe to a version of radicalized Islam? Or what to do with the potential threat of future radicalization, as confronting us in New Zealand with the closing of an Auckland mosque by the The Federation of Islamic Associations because of threats of jihad; or in the UK when Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale ran down and butchered British soldier Lee Rigby?

Warfare is changing.  We are being confronted by enemies within.  But we also have a clear and well-defined enemy without – ISIS carving out an anti-Western, anti-Jewish, anti-Christian, anti-moderate muslim monster in pan-Syria-Iraq.  It’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi now governs an area of more souls than live in New Zealand, and whom are now taxed to feed his militarist state.

The West will act.  The doves will die and the hawks will rise. The Kurds will get their homeland, and ally to the West.  The Turks will have to decide whether they are Western or Eastern, secular or religious.  Differences between America and Russia will dissipate. But as former Australian army chief professor Peter Leahy warned us from Canberra just ten days ago, ‘we will be fighting this enemy for 100 years,’ just as we have Communism.

Radical Islam is the military quandary confronting Generation Y.  Let’s hope we don’t lose our heads.

~ John Stringer is an author and classical scholar living in Christchurch.

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