by Randolph T. Holhut
Chief of American Reporter Correspondents
February 12, 2015
ISLAMIC STATE TRIES TO GOAD U.S., JORDAN INTO A WIDER WAR
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- The purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, and the bigger and splashier and bloodier the event, the better.
The Islamic State's latest video, released on Feb. 3, showing Jordanian Air Force pilot First Lt. Moaz al-Kasassbeh being burned alive in an iron cage, fits that description to a T.
Al-Kasassbeh was shot down on Dec. 24 during an air raid against Islamic State positions in northern Syria. The Jordanian government claims that the 26-year-old apparently had been killed on Jan. 3.
If so, it took a month for the video jockeys of the Islamic State to put together the 22-minute propaganda video that showed his death. Perhaps they thought the videos showing Islamic State hostages being beheaded are losing their shock value, so execution by flame was the next frontier of shock and awe for these barbarians.
And, as an added bonus, the Fox News website embedded the flaming execution video, the only U.S. media organization to do so, and gave the Islamic State an even wider audience.
If the Islamic State's goal with this video was to goad Jordan and other countries to overreact to their barbarism, mission accomplished.
Jordan and the United Arab Emirates are among several Arab counties taking part in U.S.-led air strikes against the Islamic State. Both have been keeping quiet about their roles out of fear of riling up Islamic extremists.
After the release of the tape, Jordan's King Abdullah II promised a "harsh" response to al-Kasassbeh's murder. The day after the tape came out, Jordan executed two Iraqi prisoners allegedly affiliated with Al-Qaeda in Iraq. The day after that, it launched a series of air strikes against Islamic State targets.
Right after the bombings, the Islamic State claimed that the Jordanian attack killed hostage Kayla Mueller, an Amrtican aid worker and activist who was kidnapped from the Syrian hospital she was working at on August 2013.
Mueller's death was confirmed by the White House on Feb. 10. The day after, President Obama formally asked Congress for an authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) against the Islamic State.
The AUMF the President is asking for would repeal the 2002 AUMF that authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but wouldn't repeal the 2001 AUMF, hastily passed after the 9/11 attacks, that launched the so-called global war on terror.
President Obama seeks a three-year authorization, which would extend a war into the next administration. There would be no geographical limitations, as war would be waged against "individuals and organizations fighting for, on behalf of, or alongside [ISIS] or any closely-related successor entity in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners."
The President has said he doesn't need a new AUMF to wage war against the Islamic State. And, given the level of opposition to Mr. Obama in the Republican-controlled Congress, there's no guarantee he'll get one. But, in the end, it is certain that we'll see scores of innocent civilians killed, whose surviving relatives will seek revenge and want to join the Islamic State and al-Qaeda's cause.
All the many different U.S. military operations in the the Middle East and Africa since 9/11 have fueled the growth of groups such as the Islamic State. And they grow in power every time they do something that creates fear or outrage and garners global media attention.
The media covers terrorism in a way that incites more terrorism, which in turn creates more media coverage, which in turn creates even more terrorism and reinforces the idea that it is the greatest single issue facing our existence.
To defeat the Islamic State, and the other terrorist wannabes, they have to be deprived of the oxygen that feeds them - media attention.
What if there was a concerted international media blackout of the Islamic State's videos? What if every one of their grisly videos was met with silence? What if we treated these thugs to the contemptuous silence they deserve? Deprive them of their audience, and the result would be no more of these videos.
Then, perhaps, the world could get back to more pressing matters, such as coming up with ways to deal with climate change, the yawning, hungry chasm between rich and poor, and all the various diseases and maladies that are more likely to kill a person than a terrorist attack.
AR's Chief of Correspondents, Randolph T. Holhut, holds an M.P.A. from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and is an award-winning journalist who has worked in New England for more than 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at email@example.com.