The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released another video today, this time showing the beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians by ISIS militants in Libya, "a message signed with blood to the nation of the cross." The Christian Science Monitor reports:
The text and video were targeted at terrorizing a Western audience as much as Arab speakers, with captions in both Arabic and English and a masked speaker who issued his threats in fluent English. The style of the video is very much like the last IS snuff movie, involving the burning to death of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kassasbeh in a cage in Syria.
Like the murder of Lt. Kassasbeh, this was a high definition video exhibiting significant post-production editing, including jump cuts and other editing techniques stolen from Hollywood slasher flicks. This mass murder was if anything, more horrific. Unlike Kassasbeh, a Jordanian pilot whose F-16 crashed in Syria, the victims this time weren't fighting the group. They were simply Egyptian Coptic Christians trying to make a living in Libya, kidnapped in early January and eventually murdered due to their faith alone.
Libya has become a battleground for a large number of extremist groups ever since the end of the 2011 civil war, which saw the U.S. and its NATO allies intervene on the side of the rebels. After a group of rebels captured, sodomized, and killed Col. Muammar Qaddafi, the long-time dictator of Libya, with the aid of U.S. air support, President Obama and his administration declared U.S. involvement in Libya a foreign policy success. "We came, we saw, we died," then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton quipped. Last summer, the situation in Libya had become so violent the U.N. mission evacuated from the country.
ISIS advanced in Libya began late last year, and today's video makes the extent of their foothold in the country, and the heavy costs of regime change, with ground troops and an extended combat mission or not, much clearer. Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi warns his country will retaliate against the killings. Egypt and the United Arab Emirates began air-strikes in Libya last August in an effort to contain some of the Islamist militants operating in the country but those strikes have had a limited effect.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a likely Republican presidential candidate, has been taking Clinton, a likely Democratic presidential candidate, to task over her role in the U.S. intervention in Libya for months. It could open up an important political debate on interventionism and its consequences, despite efforts by Clinton apologists and Libya denialists to boil down criticism of the disastrous U.S. interventionist policies in Libya to a political squabble over Benghazi.