As has been widely reported, ISIS has released “a video that appears to show the execution of David Haines, a 44-year-old British aid worker kidnapped by the militant group last year in Syria.”
Understandably, a lot of people would like to see an #ISISmediaBlackout — to deprive ISIS the media attention it craves. Frankly, it’s too late for that.
Moreover, it’s a mistake to think that ISIS simply wants publicity or that its barbarity is intended purely as an act of provocation.
The previous two executions of American citizens came after President Obama had already committed U.S. forces to engage in military action against ISIS in Iraq. And the latest execution comes after his announcement that this operation is going to be extended into Syria.
The executions of Americans and now a British citizen have raised questions about the policies of each respective government and whether they did enough to protect their own citizens.
ISIS strategists understand perfectly well the principle of divide-and-rule and this is what they employ in their latest message, using Haines as their involuntary spokesman addressing British prime minister, David Cameron:
“You entered voluntarily into a coalition with the United States against the Islamic State, just as your predecessor, Tony Blair, did, following a trend amongst our British prime ministers who can’t find the courage to say no to the Americans.
“Unfortunately, it is we, the British public, that will in the end pay the price for our Parliament’s selfish decisions.”
If there’s a bait here, it’s not being dangled in front of any government — it’s being offered to the many in the public who are only too eager to echo ISIS’s demand that the U.S. and its allies intrude no further into the territory that ISIS has claimed as its own.
At some point, ISIS may engage in an act of pure provocation and if that happens, I don’t think anyone will be in any doubt — just as there was no doubt that the bombing of the al-Askari Mosque in the Iraqi city of Samarra on February 22, 2006, was intended to fuel a civil war.
The Guardian reports: After 12 years in the RAF, David Haines decided that he wanted to use his experience to work with NGOs who were operating in some of the world’s most turbulent regions. Over the next 15 years, as a security adviser and manager, he worked with refugees in the former Yugoslavia, disabled people in Libya and ceasefire monitors in South Sudan.
He had been in Syria for just three days when he was kidnapped and handed over to Islamic State militants. Along with an Italian aid worker, Federico Motka, and a Syrian driver and translator, Haines had been surveying possible sites for refugee camps that a French charity, Acted, the Agency for Technical Cooperation and Development, was planning to establish, near the Turkish border.
Their translator, who asked not be named, later described the moment the kidnapper struck. “Two very fast cars came up behind – one overtook and the other stayed behind. They shouted at us to get out of the car in formal Arabic. They were wearing black masks and were so professional. They knew that two of us were Syrians and they knew who else was in the car. One of them put a gun to my head and threatened me not to tell anyone what I had seen. They put [Haines and Motka] in the boot of their car and shot out the tyres of our car.”
That was in March last year. During that time Haines, 44, has seen a number of other hostages held by the Islamic State released in return for ransoms. Among them was Motka, freed in May this year with the Italian government reportedly handing over almost £5m. Motka later said that he had been tortured, and moved six times. Haines’ plight went unreported, however. The UK foreign office advised Haines’s family and friends to keep quiet about his ordeal. [Continue reading…]