News coverage of the ISIS video featuring immolation of a captured Jordanian pilot has been predictably emotional. If you haven’t seen the video, you can be excused for assuming that the jihadist group is run by sadistic lunatics. If you have seen it, though, the logic of generating such a piece of propaganda is all too clear. It is a morality tale in which the horrific death of the prisoner is depicted as just retribution for the destruction that he and other members of the “Crusader coalition” have visited on parts of Iraq and Syria occupied by ISIS. You don’t have to believe this version of events to see that the video might appeal to millions of alienated young Sunni men — and not just in the Middle East. The militants who made the video are ruthless, but they aren’t crazy. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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