Sorry, ‘Beatles’, but beheading is unforgivable

According to the standards of witches and warlocks in the Harry Potter series there were three curses or spells that were ‘unforgivable ‘.  These three are the Imperius curse (it forces one to do the bidding of the caster), the Cruciatus curse (it subjects the victim to excruciating pain) and the Killing curse (which does pretty well what it suggests it does).  They are unforgivable because they are very serious, I guess.

When it comes to terrorism I would presume that certain actions are more unforgiving than others.  In this vein it is not a stretch to rule that beheading a defenceless person would rank right up there.

Maybe someone should tell the ‘Beatles ‘ this.

The ‘Beatles’ are a group of UK Islamic State members so named because their accents reminded journalists of the Fab Four.  Two of these have been captured by Kurdish forces and in what seems to be a plea for leniency or something they now say that the beheadings they helped to carry out in Iraq and Syria in 2014 were ‘regrettable ‘.

Ya think?

The lengths to which jihadis go to convince the world that what they did while toiling with IS or AQ or other terrorist groups was not as bad as we think never ceases to amaze me.  When I was at CSIS we would call this the ‘I just drove the bus’ or the ‘I just served tea’ bunch (I am not making this up: this is exactly what these people would tell us about their time with the terrorists when we talked to them).   I suppose that if you have been charged with a terrorism offence or are being held by an authority that does not play by Marquess of Queensbury rules any attempt to seem less nasty is worth a shot, but these claims do strain credulity.

It is highly likely that not everyone who left the West to hook up with a terrorist outfit like IS was equally involved in the most heinous of crimes we can imagine (mass rapes, immolation, burning people alive in cages, etc.) and it is also highly likely that some were more sadistic than others and thus predisposed to carry out such acts.  What is not likely, however, is that someone who decided to join IS in 2014 could NOT have known what the group was both capable of and responsible for vis-a-vis crimes against humanity.  Not only was there credible reporting on what was taking place in theatre at the time but the terrorist organisation itself boasted of its barabarity through videos and its online magazines such as Dabiq and Rumiyah.  In other words, no one who thought that joining these fiends was a promising employment path could possibly not have known what they were getting into and, by extension, what acts of inhumanity they were aiding and abetting.

So, no, ‘Beatles’, you do not deserve clemency and you do not deserve to have your stories told.  We do not have to listen to your twisted logic and your perverted explanations of why you did what you thought was right. We reject your justification that sawing off someone’s head was fair retribution for what you call the ‘killing of civilians’ in IS by the US, UK and others (as if IS did not kill any civilians).

My fear is that by bringing these bastards to trial, as the families of some of the victims want, we will give them a platform to spew their hatred and despicable belief systems.  In some ways, it is too bad that an armed drone did not dispose of them for us (NB I rarely support drone strikes for reasons I outline in my forthcoming 4th book ‘An end to the war on terrorism’ so I do not write this lightly).  But, in a world run by the rule of law we will – and should – bring them to court so the world can see these criminals for who they are.  At the same time no allowance should be made for them to apologise: the time for that was before they made  their career choices. I also pray that the presiding judge cuts off any attempt to lionise IS and other terrorism entities.  What we don’t need is more jihadi propaganda.

By Phil Gurski

Phil Gurski is the President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting Ltd. Phil is a 32-year veteran of CSE and CSIS and the author of six books on terrorism.

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