My finger hovered over the ‘click’ button.
I’d heard that ISIS had burned a young Jordanian pilot alive in a cage, and there were numerous people posting the snuff movie on social media.
I wanted to watch it.
To see for myself whether it really was, as many claimed, the ‘sickest video ever made’.
But I hesitated.
I don’t ‘need’ to see a man burned alive. Nobody ‘needs’ to see such an abomination.
It’s diabolical enough that it happened at all. Why compound the misery of that man’s life ending by acting as some kind of complicit voyeur?
Then I pressed click anyway.
I watched those murderous bastards light up a trail of petrol into a small cage, I watched as Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasabeh caught fire, and I watched as he screamed in horror and burned to death.
It was just as repulsive and sickening as I feared it would be. Truly the worst thing I have ever had to witness, and as a journalist for 30 years I’ve seen a lot of unpleasant things.
But I’m actually glad I watched it.
Glad I saw in real time, on professionally-crafted movie-quality video, exactly what these monsters are capable of.
Glad I know they have no limits, no humanity, and no semblance of any kind of soul.
Glad I saw the undisguised joy in their evil little faces as they perpetrated such a despicable act on a fellow human being.
Glad they repeatedly switched the camera shot from blow-torch to their victim’s face so we can be under no illusion what utter sadists they are.
I’m glad about all this because it allows me to feel such uncontrollable rage that no amount of reasonable argument will ever temper it.
And that’s precisely what we all have to feel now towards ISIS and those who support its hideous activities.
We all have to feel the same kind of unquantifiable, collective horror everyone felt when the full scale of the Nazi concentration camps was revealed.
Hitler’s Nazis and ISIS share similar aspirations and values:
The extermination of vast numbers of people.
The pursuit of power through death and mayhem.
The ability and willingness to commit physical and mental torture and murder so depraved that it defies belief or reasoned understanding.
And as with the Nazis, the world must now come together to rout and destroy them.
The big question is how?
This is not a conventional enemy that operates with an army, air force or navy.
It’s a disparate, amorphous entity whose tentacles spread wide around the Middle East.
Hard to track, thus hard to defeat.
But I believe ISIS made a big strategic error today.
Moaz al-Kasabeh was a devout Muslim.
He was the first high profile Sunni Muslim from a state involved in the US-led coalition ‘war’ effort to be executed.
By killing him in such a grotesquely barbaric way, ISIS should rouse the decent, civilized Muslim world as never before.
It’s easy to justify attacks on the West by screaming to young, impressionable poverty-ravaged minds that it’s ‘revenge’ for all the bombing campaigns in Iraq or Afghanistan.
It’s far tougher to justify the bestial immolation of a young Muslim man to other young Muslims.
This war, and it is a war, will not be won by American military power, although that will play an important factor.
It will be won by the Muslim world turning on ISIS, rooting them out of their societies and bringing them to justice. Of the legal or fatal kind.
King Abdullah of Jordan described ISIS today as a ‘criminal and misguided group which is not related in any shape or form to our great faith.’
He’s absolutely right, and it’s a massively important distinction.
As I wrote after the Charlie Hebdo in Paris, these people are not real Muslims. They’re terrorists who have hijacked Islam for their own nefarious gain. And like all terrorists, their sole currency is violence.
That violence will get worse. We can expect even more gruesome videos than we saw today.
They will sicken our hearts and test our resolve.
But Islamophobia, which erupts after all these attacks, is not the answer. Tarring a whole religion with the same poisonous brush of terrorism simply serves to make the problem worse.
Far smarter for the West to recognize that the vast majority of Muslims hate ISIS even more than we do and want our help in destroying them.
The time for any negotiating – not that I ever thought we should – with ISIS is over.
We now know they lie.
Moaz al-Kasabeh was killed a month ago, yet they pretended he was still alive to try and extract money from Jordan.
ISIS are a bunch of glorified school bullies, albeit on a grander scale of viciousness.
They survive and thrive purely through fear and threats.
Sometimes the only way to deal with a school bully is to thump him on the nose.
This particular thump though, has to come from Muslims; those hundreds of millions of Muslims who’ve had enough of seeing Islam’s name and reputation being desecrated in this way.
And the thump has to be hard enough militarily, financially and politically to ensure ISIS is cornered and isolated like a diseased rat wherever it tries to operate.
If any Muslim remains in any doubt as to whether this is the right time to stand up and cry ‘NOT IN MY NAME OR MY RELIGION!’ then I suggest they too watch the video of Lieutenant al-Kasabeh being burned alive.
He could be YOU.
This is YOUR war.
Photo Credit: Contactmusic