On February 3, ISIL released a video showing its execution of Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh by burning him alive in a cage. In the wake of his brutal murder, President Barack Obama said in a statement that Captain al–Kasasbeh’s “dedication, courage, and service to his country and family represent universal human values that stand in opposition to the cowardice and depravity of ISIL, which has been so broadly rejected around the globe.”
In televised remarks, President Obama also said that this “is one more example of the viciousness and barbarity of this organization. And I think,” he said, “it will redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of the global coalition to make sure that they are degraded and ultimately defeated.”
The execution of Captain al-Kasasbeh is ISIL’s third highly publicized murder of hostages since the start of 2015. In January, ISIL released videos of the beheadings of Japanese citizens Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto.
Secretary of State John Kerry condemned the murders of the Japanese men, saying in a January 31 statement that “their barbaric killing shows again ISIL’s brutality and extremist agenda.” The United States, he said, will continue to stand shoulder to shoulder with Japan in confronting terrorism.
In a February 1 interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, President Obama predicted that terrorist groups like ISIL will ultimately be defeated, not only because of the efforts of the global coalition that has rallied against it, but because “they don’t have a vision that appeals to ordinary people. It is…as it has been described in some cases, a death cult or an entirely backward-looking fantasy that can't function in the world. When you look at ISIL, it has no governing strategy. It can talk about setting up the new caliphate, but nobody is under any illusions that they can actually in a sustained way feed people or educate people or organize a society that would work.”
Mr. Obama emphasized that the conflict with ISIL is not a religious war, “because the overwhelming majority of Muslims reject [ISIL’s] interpretation of Islam. They don't even recognize it as being Islam,” he said.
“For us to be successful in fighting this scourge, it's very important for us to align ourselves with the 99.9 percent of Muslims who are looking for the same thing we're looking for - order, peace, [and] prosperity.”