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June 11, 2016: Skinning alive of man in Afghanistan

On June 11, 2016 the Afghan Taliban skinned a man alive before throwing him off a cliff to his death.

GHOR PROVINCE, AFGHANISTAN – They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery: that appears to go for terrorism as well.

Pity Al Qaeda (AQ). Wait, wait, hear me out before you run away! I am not trying to dismiss the horrible crimes this terrorist group has been behind but rather discuss how the world’s once #1 terrorist group – it was behind 9/11 after all – found itself competing for attention with a rival.

That rival? Islamic State (ISIS). Itself an outgrowth of sorts of AQ in Iraq, ISIS began to dominate the world’s news in the early 2010s, peaking with the pronouncement of the ‘Caliphate’ by its leader Abubakr Al-Baghdadi in July 2014. AQ leader Usama bin Laden never got THAT far!

Look ma! I got me a Caliphate! (Photo: thierry ehrmann on flickr, CC BY 2.0)

What ISIS was particularly known for, though, was its brutality. The depths to which it sank in its treatment of humans it did not like was orders of magnitude more barbaric than anything AQ had ever tried.

Alas, some groups seemed to conclude that they had to emulate ISIS methods to get attention. That is what the Taliban in Afghanistan, close allies of AQ, did in June 2016. On the 11th of that month the Taliban released a video clip depicting the brutal torture and killing of a young man in Afghanistan who was thrown off a 10- storey cliff after being skinned alive and having his eyes were gouged out.

They skinned him alive.

Afghan MP Ruqiya Naeel

You read that right. This man was SKINNED ALIVE before he was thrown off a building (allegedly because a distant relative was responsible for killing an an ex-Taliban commander in December 2015). This of course was a favourite ISIS tactic as well.

There simply have to be better ways to show one’s admiration for the tactics of another – even in the terrorist world.

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By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. and Programme Director for the Security, Economics and Technology (SET) hub at the University of Ottawa’s Professional Development Institute (PDI). Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of five books on terrorism.

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