The horror

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As a human being I feel I have to add my voice to the civilized world’s wailing, and to its screams of horror and anger against the beheadings by the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”* (ISIS) in its pogrom in Iraq and Syria.

The reports on ISIS atrocities don’t seem to be propaganda by the US Central Intelligence Agency nor by some Israeli or Western psy-war expert groups.

In fact, what is sickening is that the ISIS fighters themselves have been using civilization’s advanced information technology – the cell phone, the Internet and the social media network – to boast of their deed, to strike terror in their enemies’ hearts, they claim, by posting their gruesome beheadings on the web. The group’s use of social media — especially Twitter — to disseminate its atrocities has been described as being on the same level as that by US companies.

Who would have imagined that modern technology, one of the fruits of humanity’s intelligence, would be used as a tool for broadcasting one of the basest human acts against another?


As a human being is being beheaded and decapitated, heads being stuck on a pike, other ISIS soldiers and even civilians are taking video clips with their cell phones.

In one such clip, a Christian Syrian is asked to convert to Islam and to recite its central creed (“There is no God but Allah and I testify that Mohamed is the messenger of Allah.”). I think there was a glint of relief in the victim’s face, thinking he would live.

Beheadings by ISIS fighters posted on YouTube and LiveLeak.

Beheadings by ISIS fighters posted on YouTube and LiveLeak.

But the leader of the ISIS fighters then says in Arabic, translated as follows: “No one will shoot him. He will not be killed by shooting, because that would be too merciful for him. He will be beheaded because he is Kaffir, a non-Muslim who sided with the government and was not praying.” (The translations are in subtitles.)

A hooded man behind then grabs his hair to pull his head back to expose his neck, and proceeds to decapitate him with a bayonet knife, not in one swift blow that we see done by samurais in movies, but as one would cut a log using the knife as a saw. It took half a minute for the head to be cut off from the body

The audio capability of cell phones makes it even gruesome, as you can hear the shouts around cheering on the killer, and — so terrifying it made my hair stand on end — the chanting of the Islamist equivalent of the Christian “God be Praised,” “Allahu Akbar!” (“God is the Greatest!”).

That must represent the depths of mankind’s dark side: that a Deity is invoked, and the beheading performed to prove His greatness. Did the ISIS really think they were doing it to please a Deity, or were they merely justifying man’s basest instinct unleashed in any war, to totally crush and dehumanize an enemy?

Children beheaded
Even worse, and this is the first time I’ve heard this done in war or even by the most crazed murderer: ISIS warriors are beheading children, just because they are Christians. What kind of human being would do that?

The first time I saw such videos of beheadings was when I was in government, shown many years ago by our military intelligence of Abu Sayaff beheading two captured marines, and the images kept popping up in my head for days. As in that video by ISIS, it was the same sawing action that made it so gruesome.

Why would an Abu Sayaff fighter, probably even an illiterate one in the jungles of Basilan, behead a human being, with the same cold-bloodedness as an Arab mujahideen in the deserts of Iraq?

Japanese officers in World War II were known to behead prisoners of war with their katanas, and nearly legendary in our country are stories of infants hurled in the air and caught on their way down with their bayonets. There are also cultures in which the norm was to behead vanquished enemies, as in the case of our Ilongot headhunters and other tribes in Africa and Southeast Asia whose societies are frozen in some prehistoric time. Beheading in Western Europe had been mostly used as the method of capital punishment for criminals, especially traitors, undertaken with surgical precision, as in the case of the French guillotine, whose use ended only in 1977.

All these practices, however, have either long vanished or been outlawed as inhuman acts, considered by society as atrocities, crimes against humanity itself.

Saudi Arabia remains as the only country that officially undertakes decapitation as a means of capital punishment. It has been jihadist terrorists – from Basilan, Chechnya, Iraq, Syria, and several other countries – who use beheadings as an instrument of terror.

We cannot be “politically correct” and deny the obvious. As Timothy Furnish, an American professor of Islamic studies, concluded in an article in the Middle East Quarterly: “Islamic civilization is not a historical anomaly in its sanction of decapitation… Nevertheless, Islam is the only major world religion today that is cited by both state and non-state actors to legitimize beheadings.”

Furnish cites several texts from the Quran prescribing beheadings, among them Surya (Chapter) 47: “When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely; then bind the prisoners tightly.” Also, Surya 8:12 reads: “I will cast dread into the hearts of the unbelievers. Strike off their heads and strike off every fingertip of them.”

Most Islamic scholars claim, though, that these are passages that applied only during the Prophet’s time. But the problem is that succeeding Islamic states like the Ottoman Empire, a modern state as Saudi Arabia, and jihadists all around the globe past and present, have taken these verses literally, and that God “has ordained them to obliterate their enemies in this manner.”

Religion of the sword

Furnish concluded:
“(I)n contradiction to the assertions of apologists, both Muslim and non-Muslim, these beheadings are not simply a brutal method of drawing attention to the Islamist political agenda and weakening opponents’ will to fight.… Islam is, for this determined minority of Muslims, anything but a “religion of peace.” It is, rather, a religion of the sword with the blade forever at the throat of the unbeliever.”

To be sure, verses from the holy scriptures from the two other Abrahamic religions – Christianity and Judaism – also prescribe brutality against one’s enemies as horrific as beheadings.

For instance, according to the “Holy Book’s” 1 Samuel 15:3, “This is what the Lord Almighty says… ‘Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

Those verses probably guided the Crusaders of the medieval ages who rampaged through the Middle East, even roasting the “infidels’” children and eaten. Furthermore, the horrors committed by thousands of jihadists clearly pale with the genocide of 11 million Jews and European minorities by a Christian, Adolf Hitler.

Some would even argue that 300,000 souls were snuffed in an instant by nuclear bombs dropped in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, ordered by a Christian president of a Christian nation. However, those two modern genocides were certainly not undertaken in the name of the Christian Deity.

Christianity was transformed to become humane, not by any of its tenets, but by the Age of Enlightenment – the rise of reason and its axiom that the human being is central to our world, not some spirit out there – whose epicenter, for purely accidental reasons, was also the bastion of Christianity, Europe.

The biggest tragedy of humanity is that Islam, the world’s second biggest religion, had not undergone a similar transformation, despite the fact that its golden age of science was centuries ahead of the Enlightenment.

What we are seeing in the atrocities of the ISIS and jihadist terror groups are a vestige of humanity’s dark past, when religion was so powerful it could even overrule a human being’s sense of decency and value for life.

And it will be the biggest religion in the world as it is the fastest growing today: “Clash of Civilizations”  author Samuel Huntington estimated that by 2025, Islam will have 5 percent more adherents than will Christianity.
 
History Repeats
*History in several ways repeats itself in the case of the ISIS, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, which aims to set up a Caliphate  first over the Middle East and then over all Muslim countries in the world.

Osama bin-Laden and his Al-Qaeda grew as a result of the US support of rebel groups fighting the Soviet puppet regime in Afghanistan in the 1990s.

The ISIS was one of al-Qaeda’s biggest allies in Iraq, which, after the US invasion that toppled Saddam, a Sunni, became a rallying force among the Sunnis against the mostly Shiite Iraqi rulers the US installed.

ISIS grew because of the support by the US and its allies of the rebel forces at war to topple Syrian ruler Assad. ISIS was one of the most successful rebel groups allegedly funded so much by Saudi Arabia that at one time, it reportedly had a war chest of $2 billion.

tiglao.manilatimes@gmail.com
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25 Comments

  1. Daniel Rosaupan on

    I agree with you Godfrey. The Catholic Church gave the world the best civilization. The justice system, education system, engineering, artchitecture , art and above all spirituality. The Church never allowed as a matter of doctrine to become barbaric, though its members were sometimes barbaric. The Church was demonized of its crusades and inquisition. But with what is happening now in Middle East, we now understand why the medieval Popes called for crusades

  2. “Christianity was transformed to become humane, not by any of its tenets, but by the Age of Enlightenment – the rise of reason and its axiom that the human being is central to our world, not some spirit out there”

    the article was coming along really well until Tiglao decides to inject BS (not aquino) into it. The enlightenment guillotined and destroyed more lives in a few short years than what the Inquisition did in a few centuries (I’d love to debate Bobby on this). It paved the way for the atheistic cum totalitarian ideologies, i.e., communism, marxism and their despotic variants which, up until today (Nokor, China), has killed more than 200Million people! Tiglao is either ignorant, stupid or playing dumb on this. The Catholic Church is more humane because it has deepened her understanding of grace and nature, thanks largely in part to her priests and theologians who were painlessly allowed to explore the relationship between faith and reason. The Church owes the enlightenment NOTHING!

  3. Just like dustin, I have no religion. Religion was the reason of most if not all, wars. People read their bible or was told by elders about what was written in the bible and interpret it literally. This is what happens to all extremists, fortunately, extremists of other religions are getting lesser and lesser except for islam. There are those who are already educated or who grew up other countries thus have adapted to the culture of that land. However, to those who are left behind in the middle east, the teachings remain. Children are even taught to hate Christians and jews alike because they are unclean and they are there to kill the muslims. It is also hard to educate these people because for years, their minds have been closed without an inch of opening and to infiltrate the brain to teach what is different will endanger your life. American soldiers tried to do that to the children in Iraq/ A philanthropist tried to do that in Pakistan, even building schools for the children where girls were not allowed to go to school, only the boys, The girls finally got their education but the mentality that they are different from other religions, that other people are there to annihilate them, that other religions are unclean and unpure, and many other things, remain the same. There are a few who escaped from their families for fear of being killed themselves by their own families, and those are the lucky ones because they live to tell what they went through because of religion. For me, a person should not identify himself/herself because of his religion, or race, or color. A person should go out there and face the world telling people to teach him/her what he/she failed to know, and absorb things that would make a better person out of h im/her. He must face the world and tell them that he has his own talents, he has things to be proud of, and forget about religion.

  4. This is the only time or article that I agree with Tiglao 100% who made a living of negative journalism, attacking and attacking the present government… but how the devil’s advocate play which, in the end, should challenged those in power…

  5. oil, greed, religion and politics, when mixed is a deadly cocktail…this is where tiny planet earth is in…

  6. To think that Western European countries still continue to import Muslim immigrants,soon their countries in a few years will also be plagued by sectarian fighting just like what is happening in the middle east.Today they are spectators to the horrors but within a generation I think some of them will experience this kind of gruesome strife.I’m afraid I’ll be more right than wrong on this.
    Western civilization will fall because of excessive liberalism.

  7. Daniel Rosaupan on

    The medieval Popes were right. Pope Francis must do what his predecessors did in the battle of Lepanto. CRUSADE! We have the right to defend ourselves!

    • We’ve learned our lessons as Catholic Christians. We are mature, experienced & very wise in truly following the path of Christ. The blood of Jesus & the blood of the Martyrs (who died for Him) is the seed of growing Christians which may not be in quantity but in quality. God is not sleeping nor has abandoned his Church, but Christ is always present as he had promised to be with His Church till the end of all times. Muslim radicals will destruct (destroy) itself in the future… See, they themselves are killing one. It’s better the Christians in Syria & Iraq retreat temporarily then back later on to their homeland after the rival Muslims killed one another…

  8. I saw earlier an interview by CNN with an astrophysicist Neil Tyson who is a member of that highly respected group – the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence or the SETI. In that interview he was asked why he thought aliens had already come to our planet and simply passed by seeing how backward we still are. His answer was a bit disturbing. He compared our situation with the aliens to that of the monkey and us. He asserted that although we are 99 plus percent similar genetically with the monkey, the brightest monkey we can find around merely has a level of intelligence of a typical five-year-old child. He alleged that we are on the same situation in relation to the aliens.
    That proposition was a bit disturbing. What on earth could the aliens have that we still don’t have? What aspects of human intelligence that remains very underdeveloped?
    Your column today Sir Tiglao seems to provide an answer to these questions. Our human race until today seems to remain flawed on the aspect of humanity. For it is simply not being human to slit open the throat of a fellow human being just because he happens to be praying to a different God.

  9. Condemn those that made all this things possible. A little searching will show that this group has been the recipient of funding and support by the US-Saudi, as well as NATO, to bring down sovereign governments in the Middle East that includes Syria – to grab the regions oil and other resources.

    Any “Filipino”, that supports military alliances with the US and allied partners has the blood of the ISIS victims in their hands. One can bury their heads with hypocrisy reading and memorizing the Christian Bible or the Quran, moralizing with it, but nothing can erase the fact, that one is an accomplice and will remain so – to what evil deeds one’s bedmate does.

  10. Agree with you Mr. Tiglao to highlight this barbaric act of the ISIL. It’s time to fight these murderers. They’re not muslims but murderers. Full stop.

  11. My apology Mr. Tiglao. I am an avid follower of your column and I treat the articles you write with respect because I felt them being written out of what is dictated by your conscience. This one is not an exception, However, I stopped reading the latter part of your story depicting the gruesome murders committed by those who call themselves disciples of Allah. I refused to see videos spread online because the scenes will make every bit of my flesh cringe and that the stark images of blood flowing out profusely from the victims’ bodies are indelible tint that will stay in my memory for sometime.

  12. & sorry i forgot to say rid the earth of people who can kill in the name of god as nothing will ever stop them from doing what they believe in. I dont cvare how brutal we have to be but get rid of these people from this world so we can at least have a sort of peace.

  13. & you wonder why people like me dont believe in god. You see these people would argue with you that their god is the only god & you would argue your god is the only god, & then you have my arguement there is no god. Who is right. You think you are, they think they are, & i think i am. There is no answer. But even in this country how many people at the top say they believe in god, they go to church all the time & they pray regulary & yet they steal from this country. They commit other crimes against this country & the people of this country & all when accused swear by god almights they are innocent.
    Now if there is no god none of you will ever know as when you die if we are then just dead there is nothing. So dying still wont have given you the answer, but so what you are dead & gone so it doesnt matter.
    Richard dawkins is the man to listen to, if you have never heard of him look at what he says & hopefully it will enlighten you.

  14. As civilized human beings, all decent muslims around the world, including the Filipino muslims should be ashamed by these deeds of ISIS. What honor is there converting people to Islam through coercion and intimidation? Do you muslims condone this type of conversions and why? How primitive and abhorring!

  15. Where are the so-called MODERATE IMAMS in the Muslim world?

    Why don’t they speak up and condemn their fellow murderous Muslims who kill the non-believers- the INFIDELs – as dictated by their Quoran?

    Muslims should be taught TOLERANCE and to respect the basic humanity of others.

    What I see now confirms what I was told when I was a kid – that a Muslim that you can trust is only a DEAD Muslim!

  16. Those same 200 Filipino jihadists should not be allowed to come back considering of their serious involvement promoting Islamuc State of Iraq and Syria, which is in contradiction to our democratic values and ideals of our Phl Constitution

  17. Read an article about a group of some 200 Filipinos jihadists who went into training passed thru a backdoor entry into Malaysia and joined ISIS in Irag and Syria .Isn’t this a serious matter that calls for enforcement of security along our border which the Philippine Navy and Phl Immigratio n bureau must closely monitor to prevent any radical militants easy access in and out into our open sea borders. This also calls for the Immigration bureau to be proactive in monitoring their activities especially in Mindanao , where most of them are hiding.

    • I agree. It is high time to protect our border, our country from these ISIS or barbaric Muslims.

  18. I would like to correct the word suryah by Mr Tiglao. You meant surah (verse). It is written and pronounce as surah.

  19. I would like to correct Mr Tiglao’s spelling of suryah, instead it is supposedly be written and read as surah. I read, write and speak Arabic passively though but as much as possible I tried to with better grammar than everyone else whose formal Arabic schooling is zero.

  20. They are worse than the lowest form of animal known to mankind. They should be exterminated and wiped off the face of the earth.