My first thought after watching this was that it’s too implausible to be true. How does a man survive being shot at from point-blank range by ISIS einsatzgruppen? But then I thought, what incentive does he have to lie? He’s not accusing ISIS of some secret massacre that’ll shame the group in the eyes of the world. They filmed it. They want people to know. That’s one of the most arresting differences between this group of Nazi savages and the original model. If anything, this guy’s putting a target on his back by advertising himself as the one who got away. And the Times claims, for what it’s worth, that they’ve independently verified his story.
At Slate, William Saletan says paying attention to ISIS’s non-American victims is one of the finest tributes one can pay to James Foley and Steven Sotloff:
The Foley and Sotloff videos are propaganda. Their message is to get out of ISIS’s way. “Your military Air Force is attacking us daily in Iraq,” says the killer in the Foley video. U.S. meddling, he warns, “will result in the bloodshed of your people.” In the Sotloff video, he threatens, “Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
What would happen if we got out of ISIS’s way? The same thing that was happening before we intervened: mass murder and ethnic cleansing. Instead of watching the Sotloff video, let’s look at the long list of ISIS atrocities cataloged this week…
Don’t watch them. Go read about the dead boys, the raped girls, and the captive villagers gunned down for refusing to renounce their faith. Those are the people who die every day at the hands of ISIS. They’re the people whose countrymen we can still save, as we did on Mount Sinjar and in Amerli, by defying the message in the videos. Foley and Sotloff risked their lives, and ultimately gave them, to tell the world about these people. Don’t let it be in vain.
This is certainly true:
+1 MT: @joel_rayburn As ISIS loses territory, I predict mass graves will be found & death toll will be far higher than we've realized.
— Stephen Hayes (@stephenfhayes) September 4, 2014
Even the left’s favorite progressive sounds like John McCain now on the subject of ISIS. Two videos here, one of the eyewitness to the massacre and the other, via BuzzFeed, of a State Department social-media propaganda effort aimed at dissuading would-be jihadis from joining ISIS. That clip is short but revealing in how it focuses entirely on the group’s attacks on other Muslims (while carefully avoiding mentioning any sects), omitting its slaughter of Christians and Yazidis. That’s cynical but probably wise: If you’re the sort of person who’s thinking of fighting for the “caliphate,” you’re not shedding tears for dead infidels, whatever the cause. Only the ummah matters. Exit question: In a few years, after the Shiites start to overrun ISIS, the Times is destined to post a similar video from a Sunni who survived a Shiite death squad, isn’t it? It’s the Middle East’s cycle of “life.”