The AP is reporting that over in Raqqa, Syria--the sorta, kinda capital of Islamic State--it is pretty much business as usual today. Masked murderers, rapists, and thieves armed with automatic weapons and RPGs are running around yelling things like, "God is great" while strategically placed big screens re-play a video of the hideous death of Moath al-Kasaesbeh.
Yes, for reasons which only psychiatrists can explain, many on the dusty streets believe burning another human being to death is a great and wonderful thing. They have, in their minds anyway, won yet another victory in what they call the Caliphate. It is an expanse of land reaching through parts of Syria and Iraq that, in reality, amounts to nothing more than the world's largest prison yard.
Apparently the convicts who control this surreal piece of real estate, consider the gruesome murder of the Jordanian pilot on a par with the be-headings of various Americans, British, and Japanese civilians. Well, why wouldn't they? They've been busily executing Iraqi and Syrian prisoners of war for the fun of it the last year, or two, not to mention murdering and raping members of religious minorities with a gusto not seen since Reinhard Heydrich ran things for Herr Hitler. Sure there has been some blow back, but certainly nothing they haven't been able to handle so far.
That's right, the Americans might have started dropping a few bombs here and there as have the French and assorted middle eastern countries, but no one in the, "coalition," unless you count the Kurds, have had the courage to actually face them on the ground.
The truth is popular support for a real war against IS has been tepid at best. Many in the region, with good reason, have a deep distrust of western motives and actual objectives. In fact people, both there and here, can reasonably argue the United States planted the seeds of the current insanity when it invaded Iraq for no other reasons except to make Dick Cheney's pals rich and prove George W. Bush had balls.
Since our departure, thanks to an Iraqi government so brutally incompetent it defies description, the deadly beasts have been able to grow like noxious weeds and push the envelope without any concern of major retribution. However, if history has taught us anything, such unchallenged success inevitably leads to arrogance and arrogance is the precursor to a terrible fall.
It would seem Islamic State may have reached the edge of that deep chasm. Shooting anonymous soldiers and publicly beheading infidels are one thing and certainly the massacre of a bunch of French cartoonists who went out of their way to insult the Prophet wasn't going to light a fire in places like Amman. However, it appears, at least at the moment, broadcasting and celebrating the immolation of a fellow Muslim locked in a cage does flip a switch.
The AP reports Jordan, not entirely encumbered with things like appeals courts, or due process, immediately executed two prisoners previously convicted on terrorism charges. One of them, Sajida al-Rishawi was the woman IS reportedly wanted to swap for the already dead al-Kasaesbeh. There can be little doubt the order came directly from King Abdullah II.
Ahmed al-Tayeb, a scholar at the Al-Azhar institute in Cairo, a Sunni seat of study, said Islamic State is the enemy of God and the Prophet. He also claimed the execution violated Islam's prohibition of the mutilation of bodies, even during a time of war. A Saudi cleric maintained the execution was in violation of Islam because the Prophet said God alone gets to punish with fire and that is strictly in the afterlife.
Others religious and political leaders used terms and phrases such as, despicable, obscene, and "abuse of Islam." There were also things bandied about like, "intellectual decay" and "political fragmentation."
In short, this latest act of madness may have taken things one murder too far when it comes to that whole hearts and minds department.
How this will play out beyond the initial outrage is any ones guess. But for now we are left with the words of Jordanian politician, Mohammed al-Rousan. He was quoted as saying, "Let's use the same methods on them. Let's kill their children. Let's kill their women."
Around these parts words like those mean someone has just been provoked into a blood feud.
And, quite frankly, such things rarely end well for the fuckers who started it.
We can only hope that will be the case here.