The new ISIS snuff film is a little different than their previous offerings, in that they don’t show the marquee murder taking place, but according to the UK Daily Mail, a severed head purportedly belonging to captured aid worker and former U.S. Army Ranger Peter Kassig is prominently displayed. The video does show the knife beheadings of dozens of captured Syrian troops, who are marched into the desert by Islamic State jihadis and decapitated slowly and painfully in the 16-minute video.
The British seem convinced Kassig has been killed as ISIS boasts in the video, while the White House is still trying to validate the claim:
Prime Minister David Cameron said he was ‘horrified by the cold blooded murder’ of US hostage Peter Kassig, and claimed that Islamic State militants ‘have again shown their depravity’.
The White House says U.S. intelligence agencies are trying to determine the authenticity whether the video is real.
National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan says that if the video is authentic, the White House would be ‘appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American.’
She says the White House expresses its deepest condolences to Mr Kassig’s family and friends.
Mr Kassig’s family, in the U.S. state of Indiana, said they were awaiting confirmation of the reports about their ‘treasured son’ and had nothing more to say at this time.
Murder-video mainstay “Jihadi John” appears once again in the new production, standing over what is said to be Kassig’s severed head and making threats in English:
He says: ‘This is Peter Edward Kassig, a U.S. citizen of your country. Peter, who fought against the Muslims in Iraq while serving as a soldier under the American army, doesn’t have much to say. His previous cell mates have already spoken on his behalf.
‘But we say to you Obama … you claim to have withdrawn from Iraq four years ago. We said to you then that you are liars, that you have not withdrawn and that if you had withdrawn that you would return, even if after some time.
‘You would return. Here you are. You have not withdrawn. Rather, you hid some of your forces behind your proxies and withdrawn the rest. Your forces will return, greater in number than they were before.
‘You will return and your proxies will not benefit you.
‘And we also remind you of the haunting words that our Sheikh Abu Musab al-Zarqawi told you. The spark has been lit here in Iraq and its heat will continue to intensify by Allah’s permission until it burns the crusader army in Dabiq.
‘And here we are, burying the first crusader in Dabiq. Eagerly awaiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive.’
Dabiq, the Daily Mail informs us, is “the location where Islamic State militants believe a decisive final battle will be fought with Western forces.”
Kassig converted to Islam during his captivity, changing his name to “Abdul Rahman,” the name used by a British Muslim leader who denounced his execution as “an affront to Islam,” denouncing his killers as “murderours criminals” who are a “stain on humanity.” Kassig’s mother is wearing a head scarf in one of the pictures posted by the Daily Mail.
Asked by a talk-show host what his country could do to stop the slaughter, former British Prime Minister John Major suggested the only way to defuse the ISIS narrative about “the crusaders” returning was to “support other Arabs on the ground and use our power in other ways to help them – surveillance, training, provide weapons and so forth.”
But Kassig was captured while providing aid to victims of the Syrian civil war, and Obama’s prospective proxy fighters in Syria have been all but wiped out. They were routed in military actions by al-Qaeda last week, and now al-Qaeda and ISIS have announced a tactical partnership on the battlefield, setting aside their old rivalry to put down the last of the “moderate Syrian rebels.” At this point, talking about magically solving the problems of the new Islamic caliphate and the bloody old Syrian regime by dumping Western munitions into the hands of moderate Syrian freedom fighters sounds more like wishful thinking than realistic strategy – a magic spell intoned to nourish the fading belief that all of this horror can be resolved with minimal risk to Western troops.
Update: The Washington Post ominously notes that ISIS “is also holding a 26-year-old American woman and another woman” – captured, like Kassig, while doing humanitarian work in Syria. The head-choppers don’t seem to have queued up their next victim in this video, as they did in previous releases, but if they want to make a splash, they haven’t built one of these productions around beheading a female hostage yet.