The incredible spate of beheadings which are perpetrated by Islamic militants around the world had many asking the question, "Why do Muslims behead so many people?" In the modern age, there are swift and almost bloodless ways to kill, which makes the use of beheading subject to question.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Islamic terrorists continue their reign of terror over the world as they murder their way into our living rooms and television sets, iPads and offices, where we see the gruesome results of their handiwork. Hardly a person in the modern world has gone without witnessing some of the atrocities of the Islamic State or Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorists around the world.
|Muslim terrorists prefer beheading as the latest way to grab |
headlines. Here, a terrorist prepared to saw off the head of
American journalist, James Foley.
Among their most astounding choices is the decision to brutally decapitate victims and film or photograph the deed. Many of the Islamic State terrorists have gone further and posed with the decapitated heads, distributing the images via social media. Twitter has recently started blocking some of these images, but the world has both a right and a need to see the truth.
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It's a gruesome decision, to kill by decapitation. We live in an age where there are no shortages of ways to kill. We can kill swiftly will bullets, or painlessly with drugs. Furthermore, decapitation is a messy affair with the warm blood of victims spilling everywhere as they instinctively strain against the sawing blade. It's a lot of trouble to go through for both the killer and the victim.
So why is it happening?
First, most of the people being killed by the Islamic State and other terrorists are not killed via beheading. Shooting remains the most common form of execution, and the Islamic State is filming these executions, publicizing their handiwork. A large number of people are also killed by various means including suicide bombings. Exposure to the elements and live burial have been alleged in a few cases. However, the Islamic State and other terrorists are making a spectacle of beheadings in particular.
We are dealing with terrorism and the point of terrorism is spectacle. It's a way for those who feel disenfranchised to get their message noticed around the world. Historically terrorists hijacked airliners, performed car bombings, and suicide bombings. Within the past decade, beheading has become a way for terrorists to force their message back into the public spotlight.
The change in tactics is required because car bombings and suicide bombings have become cliche. They're so commonplace the media has stopped reporting on them in any detail. As for airliners, they've become very difficult to hijack so such deeds have become rare.
However, beheading has a gruesome allure that practically compels people to watch. The viewing of an execution or a killing has an illicit allure to people and even in a society steeped in violent media on the television and in computer games, nothing beats the real thing. It's a gruesome critique of our modern civilization that footage showing the horror of death in graphic detail is widely consumed.
This plays into the hands of the terrorists who want to propagate their message, however it also works against them. Instead of building sympathy it spreads fear and people do not always fly in the face of fear, sometimes they fight.
Indeed, beheadings of Americans by Al Qaeda have sparked major campaigns to find and kill or arrest those responsible for such deeds.
Yet this fact does not answer the question entirely. Muslims also behead because they believe they have a mandate to do so, granted by the Quran.
Several scriptural passages in the Quran mention decapitation of those captured in battle or as a punishment for alleged crimes. Historically, beheading has been widely employed by Islamic nations, including the Ottoman Empire which used the penalty to great effect throughout the centuries.
In 1480, Muslim raiders beheaded an entire village of 800 Italians after they refused to convert to Islam. The site of their mass execution in Otranto, Italy remains important to the Catholic Church.
The terrorists who are carrying out these executions prefer beheading because the act itself has precedent in Islamic tradition.
Islamic apologists will argue that the act of beheading does not have sanction in the Quran, and that the killing of "infidels" has no place in modern Islam. However, there is no question that today's terrorists would differ with these apologists and as far as the world is concerned, the knife is just the way to send the most prominent infidels to their doom.