ISIS beheaded four Peshmerga in a grisly video released today with a retribution message to President Obama — delivered by an American-sounding executioner — for last week’s raid to rescue 69 prisoners near Hawija, Iraq.
Three of the Kurds are forced to watch the fourth prisoner being beheaded before they are subjected to the same fate.
The video, viewed by PJM, includes night-vision images of a helicopter attack, though it’s unclear if it’s footage from that night. It also shows clips of Defense Secretary Ash Carter, dead bodies and a field of rubble while ripping off coalition footage of the strikes. U.S. forces said they leveled the compound after the prisoners, who were set to be killed later that day, were rescued.
A narrator speaking in Arabic walks through the decimated compound as he recounts ISIS’ version of events and includes alleged witnesses.
One jihadist wearing gloves and a surgical mask picks through a pile of first-aid packaging, bloody bandaging and needles they said were left by U.S. and Kurdish forces.
Then the 15-minute video cuts to the prisoners in orange jumpsuits kneeled before the rubble, and the black-clad killers wielding knives.
Unlike Jihadi John’s unmistakable British accent, the ISIS fighter who speaks to the camera sounds American.
“Obama, you have learned a new lesson. Six of the soldiers of the caliphate faced 400 of your children. They killed and injured them, by Allah’s grace. You were probably surprised by this. O Crusader, it is the support of Allah you did not gain anything, you returned to your base with loss and humiliation,” the jihadist says.
“Obama, you wage war against Allah. He supports us against you; it is the promise of Allah. Allah will never fail in his promise. ”
Unlike some ISIS videos that show a knife at the victim’s throat and cut to the decapitated head, this horrific video shows the beheading and the expressions on the faces of the other prisoners as they’re forced to watch.
The head killer of the remaining three prisoners has an accent that sounds like he may be from the Caucasus region, with pale skin showing from beneath his black coverings.
The Peshmerga, known for their strength in battle, faced their fate with exemplary bravery.
The video was released on the same day that the Obama administration announced some 50 Special Ops soldiers would be on the ground “to further intensify our support” for moderate Syrian forces “that have made that progress against ISIL.”
“There was a lot discussions in this room a couple of weeks ago about the train and equip program that was not yielding the kind of results that we would like, and the president announced a significant change to the outline of our strategy,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.
Earnest stated that “the less than 50 number is accurate,” but he couldn’t be “more specific than that, primarily for reasons related to operational security.”
“There are a number of details about this decision that I am not in a position to discuss in this public setting, primarily to ensure that our Special Operators can do their work as safely as possible, acknowledging that this is a very dangerous region of the world.”
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) noted that U.S. forces have been conducting air operations against ISIS for over a year, but this “limited action” of ground forces “is yet another insufficient step in the Obama Administration’s policy of gradual escalation.”
“Such grudging incrementalism is woefully inadequate to the scale of the challenge we face – Syrian and Iraqi civilians are dying on the battlefield every day, hundreds of thousands of refugees are flooding into Europe, the erosion of America’s credibility is accelerating, and America’s foes are rapidly destabilizing the rules-based international order,” McCain said.
“…There is still no compelling reason to believe that anything we are currently doing will be sufficient to achieve the President’s stated goal of degrading and ultimately destroying ISIL.”