Feb. 3, 2015
Daniel Benjamin, director of Dartmouth’s Dickey Center for International Understanding and the U.S. State Department’s former counterterrorism chief, is available to comment on the Islamic State video showing the execution of a captive Jordanian pilot by burning him alive.
“ISIS believes that the more brutal its actions, the more appealing it is to potential recruits. Of course, it hopes to scare off any countries it can from participating in the coalition or providing financial support to anti-ISIS forces. This was probably part of the thinking behind decapitating the Japanese hostages. But the message is predominantly directed at recruits and supporters who take delight in the notion that this barbarity is the same as real power and that ISIS is gaining ground. The idea isn’t laughable. Being more ruthless and violent than anyone else has helped ISIS steal the mantle of leadership from al Qaeda, attract more recruits than any such group in recent history and become the center of extremist attention. Ultimately, though, the atrocities and the misgovernance of those under ISIS rule will turn the broader Muslim population more forcefully against it and strengthen the resolve of coalition members.”
Benjamin is available to comment at Daniel.Benjamin@dartmouth.edu