ISIS leader: Don't stop execution videos, but tone them down

by Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/Social Media Website via Reuters TV)A still image from a video posted on the Internet on July 5, 2014, purportedly showing the reclusive leader of the militant Islamic State terror group, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, responsible for the group's brutal march across the Middle East. He was reportedly wounded in an airstrike in the spring, but now is again asserting control over the group. He has instructed the Islamic State's media arm to stop broadcasting the full videos of public executions because they may be upsetting to Muslims and children.

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State terror group, has issued instructions to his followers to tone down the gruesome execution videos its media arm posts on the Internet, Kurdish and Arab media sources reported July 17.

The letter from the caliph – a term used for a Muslim spiritual leader – was reportedly sent to ISIS commanders in Syria and Iraq after a video surfaced last week of a 12-year child soldier or "cub of the caliphate" beheading a Syrian prisoner.

Other videos have shown mass beheadings on Libyan beaches, mass executions by firing squad in Palmyra – also at the hands of child soldiers – and even crucifixions and drownings.

Instead of banning the release of such videos, Baghdadi should have rather banned the crimes behind the scenes. But he has already justified the barbarism of his followers and his decision makes no sense.
- Syrian politician Ferid Hisso

Notably, the letter did not ask ISIS fighters to cease the executions, but only to avoid broadcasting them in order to "respect the sensitivities of Muslims and children who find such images repulsive."

According to al-Baghdadi's instructions, reported in the London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi daily newspaper, videos featuring beheadings should only show the first cut on the throat of the captive and then the severed head.

ARA, a Kurdish news agency, claimed some of the ISIS militants initially rejected the edict, believing the execution videos are means of intimidation. They are also seen as a recruitment tool for other willing jihadists. 

The fact that al-Baghdadi's command was even questioned may illustrate a rift in the leadership of ISIS over tactics. Al-Baghdadi, once held in an Iraqi prison before being released by American forces, was once the undisputed leader of the group, but a U.S. airstrike gravely wounded the leader earlier this year. He was reportedly transported out of Iraq for medical treatment and may currently be in Syria.

Ferid Hisso, a Syrian politician and lawyer with ties to the highest levels of the government, said the terror group has not changed its views. In other words, they still believe there is nothing wrong with beheading their captives.

"The terrorist group describes its crimes as the application of the rule of God," Hisso said.

"Instead of banning the release of such videos, Baghdadi should have rather banned the crimes behind the scenes. But he has already justified the barbarism of his followers and his decision makes no sense."