Isis’s reign of terror rooted in the political culture of Iraq and Syria

The beheading of Alan Henning was not Isis’s first, as we all know full well, nor will it be the last. But by ignoring pleas for mercy from across the Muslim world, the group set any doubt to rest as to the nature of its need for video horror violence.

That violence is in part religious — a public insistence that its own ultra-aggressive interpretation of Islam is more “authentic” than the wishy-washy versions of Muslim politicians, scholars and ordinary people who want to live peacefully and get on with the modern world.

It demands recognition that Islam can be spread by the sword in the 21st century, just as much as it was in the 7th.

The violence is also rooted in the political culture of Iraq and Syria, the countries from which Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant has sprung…

Most importantly and specifically, the violence reflects a need to show a continuous momentum. Success, however horrific, breeds success; if you depend on apparently psychopathic behaviour to press your advance, you need to recruit more psychopaths, and to show it works…

The author makes some good points. Obviously, fighting comes naturally to Homo sapiens. The question is why is it so bad in this part of the world right now?

I think he is right about ISIS being dominated by psychos and attracting more of the same. He gives some gruesome examples of life in Iraq, both before and during Saddam’s time — Saddam was another psycho.

But he fails to mention either the tribal culture still existing in the Middle East or the role of Islam. Tribal societies are far more violent than, say, the present-day West. And Islam — coming straight out of a tribal society itself — clearly considers violence to be perfectly normal.