Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Moral Responsibility and the Genociders of Islamic State (Daʿesh).

with 5 comments

David Haines

The Islamic State group has released a video purporting to show the beheading of British aid worker David Haines – an act described by the British prime minister as “pure evil”.

The video, released late on Saturday, shows Haines, 44, being killed in a desert location by a masked man. The father of two children, from Perth in Scotland, was abducted last year while working for the French aid agency Acted.

The video comes after the murder of James Foley and Steven Sotloff, both American journalists, in similar settings and manners.

The masked man in the latest video states Haines was killed because the UK’s prime minister, David Cameron, had promised to arm Kurdish Peshmerga fighters in Iraq against the Islamic State fighters.

“This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.”


You can see the Video here.

Read the Transcript here.

The Guardian states,

In the video, entitled A Message to the Allies of America, a masked man is shown carrying out the beheading of Haines, whose life had earlier been threatened in a film showing the murder of American journalist Steven Sotloff. The video, which runs to two minutes and 28 seconds, ends with a warning that a second British hostage would be the next to die. He has been named in international media and on social media as Alan Henning, a British aid worker.

The killer, swathed in black, then makes a statement in which he makes a direct reference to the British government’s aid to Kurdish fighters.

He says: “This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State. Ironically, he has spent a decade of his life serving under the same Royal Air Force that is responsible for delivering those arms.

“Your evil alliance with America which continues to strike the Muslims of Iraq and most recently bombed the Haditha Dam will only accelerate your destruction. And playing the role of the obedient lapdog, Cameron, will only drag you and your people into another bloody and unwinnable war.”

The BBC adds, that the killer, “appears to have a British accent.”

This is a terrible event, and  we are deeply saddened.

But let us avoid rhetoric about an “‘an act of pure evil’ (David Cameron).

Some more precise points:

  • It is to be hoped that nobody from the Stop the War Coalition or elsewhere will blame this killing of an innocent aid worker on Western foreign policy. The murder is the responsibility of the person who carried it out, and the Islamic state leaders who directly ordered the beheading . The person killed, David Haines,  bears no collective responsibility for the actions of the West. He bore no responsibility for what the Royal Air Force is doing now. He was an aid worker. The butcher who decapitated him  had no right to take the right over his life to himself.
  • It is equally to be hoped that the StWC and others will not repeat the phrase about a “bloody and unwinnable war”. This is not a matter of Cameron “not saying no” to the Americans, a lapdog of the White House.  It may be wrong it may be right, but if the West did not arm the Peshmerga, the Islamic state will not stop religious cleansing, torture  and genocide.
  • The  murderer says, “This British man has to pay the price for your promise, Cameron, to arm the Peshmerga against the Islamic State.” The killer is not an agent morally capable of making Haines “Pay” anything. You cannot transfer a debt – real or metaphorical – from one unrelated individual, the Prime Minister, to another person, particularly one who is independent of his field of action
  • Nobody can lay the Haines’ death directly at Cameron’s door: it is the decision of Islamic state, an act of their will, in order to further their aim of enforcing a Caliphate over the corpses of ‘heretics’ and ‘unbelievers’.
  • The individual who slaughtered Haines was, according to all accounts, British. Will he, and other foreign Jihadists,  continue these actions and try to kill other British people that he considers responsible for attacking the Islamic state?

 It would be appreciated as well if people would stop repeating that Islamic State/ISIS/Daʿesh has nothing to do with real Islam.

We are not in a position to know what ‘real’ Islam is.

Daʿesh claims to be Islamic: it is one form of actually existing Islamism. (1)

Fawaz A Gerges on Radio Four this morning underlined that it is marked by unrelenting sectarian hatred, above all of Shias.

This clearly has nothing whatsoever to do with Western foreign policy.

This is not to deny the complications at work in Iraq and Syria and few would be inclined to lay out the battle lines in black and white.

There remain plenty of contradictions at the heart of the US-led operations, ranging from the lack of fixidity in the roles of Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab League, to the (sectarian) nature of much of the Baghdad government and the long-term goals of the Kurdish regional authority (see Rue89).

One aspect of Daʿesh, nevertheless,  does concern us here with absolute clarity: every European jihadist may be held accountable for their crimes, tortures and murders.

They should be brought before a War Crimes Tribunal. 


(1) By denouncing ISIS as ‘not Muslims’, moderate Muslims risk making things worse  James Brandon.


Written by Andrew Coates

September 14, 2014 at 10:57 am

5 Responses

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  1. I don’t think we should even mention Islam. Just concentrate on the democratic arguments. Point out that society cannot function if if is chopping the heads of people who are different, if it is enslaving people and if it refuses to allow mechanism for ‘dispute resolution’. Personally, I think anyone is on a sticky wicket if they start talking about theological interpretation, it’s all bollocks after all(and I say that as someone who has had a lifelong interest in theological debate.). Islam is as Islam does. Let the practictioners of the belief system decide what is right and what is wrong. Stress socialist or democratic virtues. Also. the Left needs to address the game plan behind ISAIS more. I read an article on the internet by an American analyst that argues that ISIS want to capture Saudi Arabia. Seems to be a good objective to me. Once they get their hands on that oil they will be in clover for generations. Need to make explicit the economic basis of the group.

    Sue R

    September 15, 2014 at 11:14 am

  2. Good comments Sue.

    But Islam has to be mentioned when it’s the proclaimed basis of the Islamic State.

    Andrew Coates

    September 15, 2014 at 12:06 pm

  3. Yeah, but it can look like an attack on Islam and freedom of belief. I just think one should concentrate on the political point. Clear, blue water sort of stuff. It’s up to barbarians to decide which side they are on, and those that self-identify as Muslims will be repelled by any criticism of their beliefs (no matter how mild). At the same time, it reminds teh general populace what democracy/socialism is all about.

    Sue R

    September 15, 2014 at 6:10 pm

  4. Not so much an attack on freedom of belief, more an attack on those that do attack freedom of belief.. The politics that are at issue is the proposition that using theological doctrines to formulate political ideas is utterly misguided. Where this mixing happens it should be thoroughly ridiculed, otherwise we just slide into the morass of cultural and epistemic relativism.

    Those that self identify as Muslims do accept criticism, just like I accept people who criticise my football team. I am not repelled neither are they generally. They accept that it is part of a more fundamental process known as progress. Criticism puts crap ideas into the dustbin of history (or so it should).


    September 16, 2014 at 4:56 pm

  5. Exactly Dave.

    It’s pathetic that people who think that their god is the Master of the Universe, the judge on who goes to Paradise or to Hell, and somebody who demands to be worshiped every day, come up with the kind of political cack that some of them do.

    The point here is that that Daʿesh are putting their ideas into practice.

    Andrew Coates

    September 16, 2014 at 5:28 pm

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