Syrian jihadis behead Catholic priest while crowd cheers

Once upon a time, years ago, I would have posted the video on the theory that it’s important for the public to see with their own eyes what these degenerates are capable of. But we’ve all seen that, more than once, by now. There’s a link to the clip at the Blaze. Follow it there if you’re inclined.

No worries, though: The people who did this aren’t “our” rebels. Our rebels are the guys who are going to get crushed and have their U.S.-made weapons confiscated by the people who did this.

As TheBlaze reported last week, [Francois] Murad, 49, was setting up a monastery in Gassanieh, northern Syria. Last Sunday, on the Christian leader’s Sabbath, extremist militants trying to topple President Bashar Assad breached the monastery and grabbed Murad…

The Catholic news service quotes local sources who report that the radical Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra, or Al-Nusra Front, was behind the savage killing.

In video posted by Live Leak purporting to show the execution, dozens of men and boys are seen cheering on as three men are seated on the ground awaiting their grisly fate.

The men are methodically beheaded one at a time by men holding what appears to be a simple kitchen knife after which the heads are placed on top of the bodies.

Assad’s the greater of two evils, huh?

Three important points here about the burgeoning U.S./Sunni Arab intervention in Syria and how it might benefit lunatics like the Nusra Front. One: Serious weaponry is already making its way into the country. Not just small arms and anti-tank weapons of the sort that the White House will be supplying to “moderate” rebels, but jet-killing shoulder-fired MANPADS that can bring down commercial airliners. Qatar’s already sent a few of those to rebel elements; some of the weapons come, of course, from Qaddafi’s looted stockpile in Libya. It’s unclear whether that’s with or without America’s tacit approval (probably with), but remember that the CIA’s reportedly training some rebel units how to use arms like that. If we strongly disapprove of the Sunnis sending in the big guns, we have a strange way of showing it.

Two: Syria’s usually spoken of as a Sunni/Shiite civil war but there’s infighting among the Sunni rebel ranks too and doubtless much more to come if/when the rebels push Assad back and get their own sectarian state carved out for them as part of some sort of peace process. Reuters reported last week that a rift between the Nusra Front, who beheaded Francois Murad, and our old friends in Al Qaeda in Iraq threatens to lead to a jihadi civil war within the wider civil war. That’d be just fine from the U.S. perspective — more dead jihadis is always good, and if the fundie elements among the rebels are punching each other, that gives the, ahem, “moderates” some breathing space. But the more divided the rebels are, the easier it is for Assad to roll over them while they’re distracted, which is precisely the outcome the White House is trying to stave off. And if the jihadis put their differences aside and postpone the Nusra/Qaeda war until the Sunnis have their own enclave, then you risk having Sunni civilians caught in the middle of it while they’re ostensibly trying to build a state. What’s the U.S. play then?

Three: It remains very hard to tell which rebels are good-ish and which are not, which makes this whole U.S./Sunni arms endeavor fraught with clusterfark opportunities. This piece at Quartz does a nice job of spelling out the difficulties of vetting rebel units. Too many groups (many of them overlapping), too many agendas, and too little control over the situation: We’re flying, if not totally blind, at least into a very dense fog in trying to pick winners. I’ll leave you with this, from the NYT piece about Qatar’s role in arming the sort of people who decapitate priests:

But Charles Lister, an analyst with the IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center in London who follows the Syria opposition groups, said that there was evidence in recent weeks that Qatar had increased its backing of hard-line Islamic militant groups active in northern Syria.

Mr. Lister said there was no hard evidence that Qatar was arming the Nusra Front, but he said that because of existing militant dynamics, the transfer of Qatari-provided arms to certain targeted groups would result in the same practical effect.

“It’s inevitable that any weapons supplied by a regional state like Qatar,” he said via e-mail, “will be used at least in joint operations with Jabhet al-Nusra — if not shared with the group.”

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