The Clash of Barbarisms
The kidnapping and beheading of US engineer Paul Johnson was an horrific act of brutality by any standard. Reading the reports of the murder and the subsequent killing of Abd al-Aziz al-Muqrin, the apparent leader of Al-Qaeda and two suspected Islamic extremists, one thing struck me. Muqrin was apparently killed trying to dispose of Johnson's body, this suggests that he was directly involved in the killing. This brought to mind reports I read in the aftermath of the similarly brutal murder of Nicholas Berg in Iraq. Several of these had suggested that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of Ansar Al-Islam, an Iraq based group connected with Al-Qaeda had been directly involved in the killing. At the time I dismissed this as rhetoric. Clearly as his organisation apparently carried out the murder, no doubt on his orders, he should be held responsible but it seemed unlikely that as the group's leader would be involved in such a hands-on way. Perhaps I was wrong. Do high ranking Al-Qaeda personnel involve themselves directly in such killings? Is there a reason for this? Does it signify something? I don't know, but I'm surprised the questions don't seem to be being asked.