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 and 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 past videos, however, the gruesome beheading of Kassig is not the centerpiece of the production. He has 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, beginning 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 grew out of Zarqawi’s group and the terrorist organizations that evolved from it.
Afer scenes from Iraq and Syria, the video shows the mass beheadings of more than several Syrian officers and pilots.
A group of Islamic State fighters dressed in camouflage are shown leading the Syrians to their slaughter. They are led by the head executioner, “Jihadi John,” who presumably killed Kassig. One by one they select knives from a bin.
“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 such a way as to highlight the drama of the moment, with close ups of the soldier’s 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 sixteen-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 “you 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 they are “eagerly awaiting for the remainder of your armies to arrive.”