Normal rules do not apply to the foul fiends of Islamic State
'So repugnant were their deeds that we should be grateful there's a chance the Americans will brutally punish them'
Four years ago, there was a period, it seems like a bad dream now, when the Islamic State group released regular hostage videos.
Men in orange jumpsuits, who knew they were about to be executed, were obliged to offer a quasi-judicial reason for that barbarity. “Hi, I am Alan Henning,” said the lovely, droll Manchester taxi driver-turned-aid worker. “Because of our parliament’s decision to attack the Islamic State, I, as a member of the British public, will now pay the price for that decision.”
Minutes later, Alan’s head was severed from his body with a knife, and a one-minute, 11-second clip of his murder was uploaded to YouTube.
There are no words.Relatives of the victims had to live with the knowledge that their fathers, husbands and sons had perished in the most fearful circumstances imaginable. The 47-year-old Henning missed Christmas with his family to work on an aid convoy to Syria, so moved had he been by the plight of Muslims in that region. Your average British bloke woke up in the middle of a horror movie; it was as if Henning’s cab had taken a wrong turn and time-travelled back to a period of medieval savagery.
IS seemed to delight in behaving like cartoon villains, coming up with ever more ingenious tortures. A young Jordanian pilot was burned alive in a cage. The cruelty was deafening.
One detail snagged my attention. After his release, Javier Espinosa, a Spanish hostage, recalled that British jihadists (known as the Beatles) had been particularly sadistic. They used captives as “toys” to keep themselves entertained, often appointing a “chosen one” for a nightly kicking.
American photojournalist James Foley and the British reporter John Cantlie were forced to rewrite and perform Hotel California as “Hotel Osama”. “Welcome to lovely hotel Osama, such a lovely place,” the doomed men sang to their torturers. Espinosa recalled that “George”, the most vicious “Beatle”, had warned: “Anyone who does not know the words, I will kick to death.”George, real name Shafee El-Sheikh, is one of two terrorists (the other, Alexanda Kotey, was “Ringo”) at the centre of a row over the UK pushing for a US prosecution of the “Beatles”, despite the risk that they could face the death penalty.
While MPs, including shadow home secretary Diane Abbott, were having a fit of the vapours over this “abhorrent and shameful” attempt to help our ally bring these thugs to justice, I can guarantee that most Britons at home were shouting: “Drop the bastards down a dark well and never let them out!”How sickening to see fastidious parliamentarians like Hilary Benn opining that “we have to show we are better than Islamic State in our morals, and should, therefore, have nothing to do with capital punishment”.
I reckon James Foley proved pretty conclusively that he was better than Islamic State when he apologised to his cellmates for fainting after an especially brutal kicking by “George”. The good manners and decency of the young American, the first to be beheaded, make me want to cry.
Sajid Javid, the home secretary, is absolutely right to prioritise the rights of the murdered men and their grieving families above the rights of two men, both raised in west London, who chose to cancel their membership of the human race.
What is “abhorrent and shameful” is that the British justice system has its hands tied to such an extent that our government feels there is a better chance of the “Beatles” getting the punishment they deserve in another country.
How warped has Western liberal society become when it extends greater protection to the torturers than the tortured? So repugnant were the deeds of Islamic State that the souls of the dead cry out to be avenged.
“New evils require new remedies ... new sanctions to defend and vindicate the eternal principles of right and wrong,” writes Ann Tusa in The Nuremberg Trial. Exactly. At Nuremberg, the civilised world prosecuted Nazi leaders, the enemies of civilisation, for crimes against humanity. “These are not days in which the people of the world are inclined to quibble over precedents.” Tell that to Hilary Benn, Dominic “precedent” Grieve and their complacent, bien pensant chums.How quickly we forget the anguish and the gut-wrenching horror of those hostage videos, and move on gratefully to dry legalistic considerations. Here is Elsheikh engaging in first-class casuistry about the part he allegedly played in mass murder: “There is an ongoing legal process ... so let’s make a clear distinction between being a part of an organisation or a state or group and agreeing with everything they do.”
There speaks a well-versed product of the Human Rights industry. Do you suppose Elsheikh “agreed” with Islamic State when he was kicking James Foley unconscious? To forget such vicious, visceral details is to dishonour the memory of the 27 who were beheaded by IS, of the gay men who were hurled from rooftops, and of the thousands of women and girls who were raped and murdered by those foul fiends.And yet, here we are, unbelievably, fretting about the “risk” that two terrorists might be executed or sent to Guantánamo Bay.
Listen carefully, dear reader, and you can still hear a knife being sharpened for a fell purpose, and the sound of “Hotel Osama” sung by heartsick hostages to entertain “George” and “Ringo”.
Remember El-Sheikh’s words: “Anyone who does not know the words, I will kick to death.”
We should be grateful to the US that their reign of terror now has a good chance of getting the ending it so richly deserves.
– © The Daily Telegraph