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ISIS Plays Up Public Killings and Punishment

There have been a slew of ISIS videos showing public killings and punishment the past few days. Some take place after prayers when the public areas are already crowded. ISIS is clearly trying to impress upon the public that spying and failure to go along with its rules will result in swift and merciless punishment.

It has been using vehicles with crucifixion crosses attached. The other day it drove through town with a Syrian man alive and attached to the cross. His offense, according to ISIS supporters on Twitter: He had laid out beacons for the Syrian Army showing it where to bomb. ISIS says civilians were killed by the bombs. (SITE says the beacons were laid out to assist the air strikes.) Even though the video does not show the Syrian's execution, I won't post the link. But I will post some screenshots so you get the idea of the size of the crowd it is playing to.

In a news video from Lebanon two days ago, an ISIS fighter speaking French threatens to behead some of the Lebanese soldiers ISIS is holding captive. He too resembles "Jihadi John" and is left-handed, but he speaks French.

Today, the news reports that ISIS did indeed execute one of the Lebanese soldiers and is threatening to kill another 9. 19 soldiers were captured when ISIS fought in the border town of Abral earlier this month. Four were previously shown to have been executed.

Also yesterday, ISIS released a video showing the public chopping off of the hand of a thief. There was another huge crowd watching, and they showed how cleanly they bandaged the hand afterwards. They also released a video of a "wizard" getting his head chopped off in public. I won't link to either video.

Lastly, German reporter Jürgen Todenhöfer, who was recently allowed to travel to Iraq and stay with ISIS, returned a few days ago and has given an interview. (Via google translator from German):

Now that you have learned the Islamic state from within, what are your strongest impressions?

Todenhöfer: First, that IS is much stronger than we think here. It now has dimensions larger than Great Britain. It is supported by an almost ecstatic enthusiasm that I have never encountered in a war zone. Each day, hundreds of willing fighters from all over the world. For me it is incomprehensible!

What is the objective of the IS?

Todenhöfer: The official philosophy is: We have set out the true Islam, which was supposed to have lived 1,400 years ago and how it defines the Koran, a reality. These plans IS the largest religious cleansing action of the story! All religions should be blotted up to three religions. These three are: the pure Islam of course, as the IS represents him - that affects about one percent of all Muslims. Should be equally spared Jews and Christians. They are followers of so-called religions of the book, so have to get from the same God messages. Moses, Jesus. Mohammed. All other religions, Shiites, Hindus, atheists, polytheists are to be destroyed. In the Arab world, and everywhere else in the world Muslims should be killed, which recognize democracy.

He says without G.W. Bush, there would be no ISIS. Asked how the West can defeat ISIS, he answers:

Todenhöfer: We basically have no place in the Middle East. The problem IS not be solved militarily from the outside. Mosul, which allegedly has three million inhabitants, is dominated by about 5000 fighters. Spread over the city. It never leaves a recognizable convoy as it reported the Americans. I myself am driven with three cars over thousands of kilometers. Since working with tricks that you can hardly imagine. .... With every bomb that is dropped now and meets a civilian, the number of terrorists is increased.

A few more quotes:

How many members are there IS now?

Todenhöfer: I guess 30000-40 000. In the part of the so-called Islamic State of Iraq, 70 percent foreigners in Syria 30 percent.

Should the West try to negotiate with a Caliph or IS-leader - and about what?

Todenhöfer: The only ones who could stop this would be the moderate Iraqi Sunnis - if they were re-integrated into Iraqi society. But for the Shiites are not currently available. I will do the devil to talk about negotiations.

Do you see yourself as an agent?

Todenhöfer: If you want to defeat an opponent, you must know him. This is an ancient Chinese war wisdom. At some point, possibly even in the foreseeable future, the IS will make about negotiations with the West suggestions to us. This will probably fail due to the unwillingness of politicians in the West.

I agree with his last point: To defeat an enemy you must know him. I think it is critical in reporting on ISIS to read what they say and watch what they choose to show. Not the "fanboy" supporters but the actual ISIS releases. The "fanboys" are worth following only because they post links to the official ISIS releases.

In other ISIS news, lawyers are now being told they cannot practice unless they attend Sharia courses. (Quite a twist on compulsory continuing legal education.) The same goes for philosophy teachers. Refusal to attend the classes will result in punishment, possibly including death.

In the more mundane department, ISIS has now banned all citizens, including its fighters from using Apple products, including iPhones and tablets. The reason given: security.

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