by Jonah Shepp
Will Saletan reacts to Steven Sotloff’s murder the same way I did yesterday, urging us to remember the people whose suffering Sotloff and James Foley gave their lives to bring to light. He rounds up some of the latest reports on ISIS’s many atrocities:
Start with Monday’s testimony before the U.N. Human Rights Council. The documented incidents include 1,700 captives executed in Tikrit, Iraq, and 650 in Mosul, Iraq. Some 1,000 Turkmen massacred, including 100 children. More than 2,000 women and children kidnapped. “Systematic hunting of members of ethnic and religious groups.” Women raped and sold. Young boys executed. Girls enslaved for sexual abuse. Children recruited as suicide bombers. More than 1 million refugees, half of them kids.
Then read the report Amnesty International issued Tuesday. Its title is “Ethnic Cleansing on Historic Scale: The Islamic State’s Systematic Targeting of Minorities in Northern Iraq.” The report details, with eyewitness testimony, several more ISIS atrocities in Iraq. At least 100 men and boys herded together and shot to death in Kocho. “Scores of men and boys” summarily executed in Qiniyeh. More than 50 men “rounded up and shot dead” near Jdali. Human Rights Watch also released a report on Tuesday. It offers new evidence about the massacre in Tikrit. “Information from a survivor and analysis of videos and satellite imagery has confirmed the existence of three more mass execution sites,” says the report. That brings the death toll to “between 560 and 770 men.” The captives were shot dead while lying in trenches with their hands bound.
Saletan argues that these evil acts compel America to step in and stop the Islamic State from killing thousands more. It’s hard to dispute that: surely someone has to stop them, and since we’ve already committed to doing so, yes, we must follow through on that commitment to prevent atrocities and protect the innocent. Still, we know that such interventions are slippery slopes, and I only hope that in trying to alleviate this unimaginable humanitarian crisis, we don’t end up prolonging or exacerbating it. It’s hard to see from the vantage of the present how things could get any worse, but then it always is.