The Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot that controls large portions of Iraq and Syria, has released a new video showing the mass beheadings of Syrian soldiers. The video also includes a scene purportedly showing the severed head of Peter Kassig, who was kidnapped in late 2013. Kassig is a former US Army Ranger who was serving as an aid worker in Syria at the time of his disappearance.
As in past videos, the Islamic State’s executioner, a man dubbed “Jihadi John” in the press because he speaks with an English accent, is featured. He taunts the West, saying that the Islamic State cannot wait to face American ground troops.
Unlike previous videos, however, the gruesome beheading of Kassig is not the centerpiece of the production. He had already been killed by the time the video cuts to his corpse.
The Islamic State’s media department begins by offering a selective history of the Islamic State and its predecessors, starting with the creation of Abu Musab al Zarqawi’s organization in Iraq. Zarqawi, who was killed in June 2006, swore allegiance to al Qaeda emir Osama bin Laden in 2004, officially merging the two organizations. The current Islamic State evolved out of Zarqawi’s group.
After scenes of fighting in Iraq and Syria, the video shows the mass beheadings of Syrian officers and pilots.
A group of Islamic State fighters dressed in camouflage is shown leading the Syrians to their slaughter. They are led by the head executioner, “Jihadi John,” who presumably killed Kassig. One by one the Islamic State executioners select knives from a bin. (The image at the beginning of this piece shows “Jihadi John” selecting his knife.)
“Jihadi John,” the head executioner then speaks, addressing President Obama directly as the “dog of Rome.”
“Today, we are slaughtering the soldiers of Bashar, tomorrow we’ll be slaughtering your soldiers,” the executioner says. He claims that the Islamic State will end this “final crusade” and then begin slaughtering people on “your streets.”
The scene of the mass execution of the Syrians is shot in a sadistic fashion, so as to highlight the drama of the moment, with closeups of the soldiers’ faces and the Islamic State’s henchmen fondling their knives before they begin cutting their victims’ necks.
Although the terrorists committing these war crimes are not specifically identified, they clearly come from various ethnicities and nationalities around the globe.
Last week, jihadists from Algeria, the Sinai in Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen all swore allegiance to Baghdadi in audio messages that were clearly coordinated by the Islamic State. The new video highlights these oaths, playing excerpts from the audio messages as the production moves from location to location on a map intended to represent the Islamic State’s claimed territorial expansion.
The video also replays audio of a speech by Abu Bakr al Baghdadi that was released on Nov. 13. Baghdadi accepted the oaths of allegiance in that speech, saying the Islamic State had expanded “to new lands, to the lands of al-Haramayn [Saudi Arabia] and Yemen to Egypt, Libya and Algeria.”
With less than two minutes left in the 16-minute video, “Jihadi John” returns, standing over the head of a man he claims is Kassig. He says that Kassig fought against Muslims during the war in Iraq. He taunts Kassig by saying the dead man “doesn’t have much to say,” as his “previous cellmates have already spoken on his behalf.”
Again addressing Obama, the terrorist says: “[Y]ou claim to have withdrawn from Iraq four years ago. We said to you then that you are liars, that you had not withdrawn. And that if you had withdrawn you would return after some time.”
“You returned,” he says to Obama, “here you are, you have not withdrawn.” America has hid behind its proxies, “Jihadi John” claims, but its forces “will return in greater numbers than before.”
Citing Zarqawi, the Islamic State’s executioner says the “spark has been lit in Iraq” and that they are “eagerly awaiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive.”
Scenes from new Islamic State video, titled “although the disbelievers dislike it”
The video highlights the oaths of allegiance that jihadists from several countries swore to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi last week:
The video replays part of Baghdadi’s audio message, released on Nov. 13, during which he accepted the oaths of allegiance and claimed that the Islamic State’s “caliphate” had expanded into new lands:
The video begins with a highly selective history of the Islamic State’s evolution from al Qaeda in Iraq:
The Syrian soldiers executed in the video are lined up with their executioners standing behind them:
The Islamic State’s fighters play with their knives before beheading the Syrian soldiers: