For whatever reason, I decided to watch the ISIS murder video of the Jordanian pilot by burning after hearing about it on the news today. ISIS has propaganda down well. Here are some thoughts:
- The video was well-produced, slick, and I can see how the target demographic could be swayed by such (disgruntled youth lacking focus/direction who have found what they consider a “righteous” cause that speaks in black/white and absolutes). For instance, in order to set the stage for the gruesome murder, they constantly showed video footage of bombed-out locations with dead people and destruction, then flashed back to video of the pilot, in order to imply that he was a murderer and thus deserved to die. The site selected for the murder appeared to be a place that had previously been bombed.
- As the victim was being murdered, a type of Islamic chanting began to play in the background, which picked up in pace and was hypnotizing in nature. The editors of this video know how to lock the images of the video into the mind permanently, I will give them that.
- The hues of the ISIS militants’ fatigues and clothing matched the desert, whereas the unjustly-condemned victim’s orange jumpsuit suggested non-belonging, creating an us-vs-them feel, an unnatural feel.
- The man was placed in a cage, like an animal.
That being said, that was not my takeaway from the video, nor the reason I decided to jot down some reflections. Above all, what struck me was how dignified the victim looked during the whole process. He seemed to walk willingly to the cage, and stood there peacefully as they lit up the charge. He only began to move frantically when the flame reached him.
I wondered about this—I’m not the physically strongest fellow out there, and I wonder if I would be screaming like a girl the second I saw the torches, or they doused me with gasoline. He walked calmly to his cage; the other hostages murdered in other videos likewise read statements calmly, etc. Is it brainwashing? Fatigue? Depression? A hope that it will “go easier” if they cooperate? Or perhaps threats against their family members? Still, one would expect to see frantic desperation, and if such existed, one would assume that ISIS would highlight it, in order to paint the victim as a coward (unless I am misunderstanding something about Arab cultural norms and perceptions; add your comment below if you can shed light on that).
Instead, what I saw was a man who stood with dignity and patience, a hero who rested on the fact that he had served his king and country honorably, who faced his fate with courage, calmly and dispassionately. The result for me was a deep respect for this fallen comrade in the fight against evil. ISIS may have tried to use him as propaganda, but in the end, they only made themselves look like fools. This man stood without a veiled face, while the cowards of ISIS killed him without even looking him in the eye, or showing their faces.
Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, Muslims such as yourself believe with us Christians that Jesus will judge at the end of time, despite your rejecting the Christian belief in His Divinity; I pray that when you encounter Him Whom you considered a mere Prophet, you will be bathed in His light, forgiveness, and mercy, and that somehow you will be granted Paradise on that great and fearsome day. Thank you for inspiring me with your courage and dignity. May your widow and family be granted peace, and may your death be avenged. As an Orthodox Christian, I hope that such avenging is by the conversion of the hearts of your murderers, but barring such, then by their swift destruction.
 Following the comment of a journalist, I will not be referring to it as an execution—execution implies legitimate authority on the part of the executioner, and a crime on the part of the executed)