The jihadists released another video on Friday, showing the beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning:
As in the other videos, a masked militant speaking with a British accent appears against a desert background with the hostage. The militant is dressed in all black with his face covered, while Henning kneels in the same orange outfit worn by ISIS’s other prisoners. … ISIS’s threats against Henning came under widespread criticism, especially after reports that he had been cleared of espionage charges by an ISIS-founded sharia court. A British Imam known for being a supporter of ISIS, Abdullah el-Faisal was among those who spoke up for Henning, saying that the 44-year-old was a“sympathizer to Muslims.”
The next threatened victim is Peter Kassig, a 26-year-old American aid worker. On Saturday, Kassig’s parents issued a videotaped statement pleading for their son’s life:
In the three-minute video, Ed and Paula Kassig address ISIS directly, highlighting his humanitarian work and his conversion to Islam, which took place while he was in captivity. (A family spokesman said Kassig’s name has been changed to Abdul Rahman.) Kassig, who spent a couple of years in the Army, is the founder of Special Emergency Response and Assistance, a small group that provided food, medical supplies, and other help to Syrian refugees. He was abducted near the Syrian city of Deir Ezzor in October of last year.
Saletan believes ISIS is signing its own death warrant with these beheadings, which appear to be driving up support for war in the US, Britain, and France:
[I]t’s noteworthy how much of the surge in enthusiasm for military action occurred during the period in which the videos were released, as opposed to the period in which Obama declared ISIS a threat to U.S. interests and launched strikes against it. In the June ABC/Post poll, only 45 percent of Americans endorsed “U.S. air strikes against the Sunni insurgents in Iraq.” Fewer than half of these supporters (20 percent of the total sample) said they supported such airstrikes strongly. By Aug. 13–17, a week after Obama’s announcement, support had increased by about 10 points: 54 percent supported air strikes, and 31 percent supported them strongly. But by Sept. 4–7, after the Sotloff video, support had climbed much higher. Seventy-one percent of Americans supported air strikes, and 52 percent supported them strongly. From these numbers, one could argue that the ISIS videos were twice as effective as Obama in rallying American support for war.