War Porn: The Death of James Foley

photomontage-tribute-for-camille-lepage-26-photojournalist-killed-in-central-african-republic.jpg

ALEPPO, Syria -- We have become a world of sensates, who require more and more input only to receive less and less gratification. We live in a world, and in fact this website and the millions of others like it, inhabit a sphere dedicated to satisfying the immediate need for any information or misinformation that we may seek.

Today, we awoke to the news that another journalist had fallen in the line of duty while trying to expose gross injustices in war-torn Syria. His death was as brutal as, or more so than, the hundreds of murders captured by video and being circulated through the web depicting the torturous final moments of people chosen by radicals to demonstrate the nature of their resolve.

The radical 'du jour' was ISIS, a.k.a. Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, but yesterday it was Boko Haram, tomorrow it may be Hamas, the next, The Ayran Brotherhood, perhaps the KKK,  Al-Qeda may rattle a saber or two, but in the end, the name of tyranny is less important than the fact that "all it takes for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." ~ Edmund Burke.

It is easy for us to blame the evil perpetrators for their reprehensible behavior, and indeed, we should feel outraged, but in so doing we must examine ourselves for our role in this dance of the macabre. ISIS would be just another group of religious zealots killing, maiming, and torturing people in the name of their version of "god," but for social media.

ISIS has learned to harness the power of social media to promulgate its ideology, but more insidious, they understand that human nature will do the rest. Much like the style of horror movies known as "torture porn" for its gratuitous amount of screaming, nudity, and bondage; the industry continues to produce these movies because there is an appetite for it. It satisfies a certain type of voyeurism that requires sadism to complete the experience.

Hence, more and more violence, for less and less satisfaction, as proven by the plethora of disturbingly violent videos and graphic images that crisscross the web. Most cannot be authenticated, but lacking in provenance doesn't stop people from 'sharing' and circulating it. Thus is the case with the horrific beheading of James Foley, an American journalist who reported from conflict ridden areas of the world as a freelance photojournalist for the GlobalPost.

That we would wake up this morning to millions of shares of the images captured by an ISIS adherent of Foley's lasts moments, should make us all feel soiled. ISIS heinously, with malice aforethought, and in cold-blood staged the beheading of Foley for the sole purpose of having us, the audience, disseminate it. They are the bait trap, into which we have climbed, and thus poisoned, we leave believing we have escaped, when in fact, we have become the carrier of that which will kill not only us, but everyone with whom we come in contact.

Like pornography, once the image has been viewed it can never be removed nor unseen. There is no such thing as a degausser for our brains. That is what makes pornography so pernicious, it repels and attracts, the image horrific or seductive continues to gain strength and relief is only found in revisiting the image, thus trying to recapture the initial sensation, it becomes addictive.

ISIS knows this as well as any successful purveyor of illicit material. They know that they only have to put it out there, and if one person views it, and even if that person is appalled and simply wants to share their outrage with their social media network, ISIS has already accomplished the goal of proselytizing through the power of concentric exposure.

That Foley had to die under such tragic and inhumane circumstances is heartbreaking. That his mother had to hear about or read about the fact that the world was greedily consuming the last moments of the life of her child is unimaginable. That his family and friends were not even allowed the dignity and privacy to begin the mourning process without the vivisection of their tragedy is shameful. That news media outlets lacked both decorum and humanity in posting the graphic video and images of Foley's beheading is morally reprehensible.

That we have a choice to share or not share the video and images of Foley's murder is the greatest and most powerful choice we can make in this situation. That, and to remember that "Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you." ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Editor-in-Chief: @ayannanahmias

Related articles

ISIS | The Extremist Group Too Violent for al-Qaeda

3170393154_868651963a_z.jpg

SYRIA — A formerly affiliated subsidiary of al-Qaeda, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Sham (ISIS), has been committing brutal acts of violence that even al-Qaeda condemns. After being denounced from al-Qaeda as a “deviant organization," the group is increasing its presence in the Levant (the Sham), particularly Syria. In Early May ISIS carried out seven public executions in the Syrian city of Ar-Raqqa, leaving two of the deceased on display, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The slaying of the seven Syrian rebels in Ar-Raqqa are just the beginning of the threat ISIS poses on the region. According to the group, the seven prisoners were crucified in response to a grenade attack on ISIS members. However, an eyewitness source told CNN that the five dead prisoners that were not displayed were children. The source, from an anti-ISIS activist group, also claims that these five victims were under eighteen; one was a seventh-grade student.

Their other attacks are also seemingly unjustified acts of terror. ISIS’s targets tend to be apparently innocent civilians, including cab drivers, goat herders, and children. Their use of crucifixion began this March when, as CNN reported, ISIS accused a shepherd of theft and murder. ISIS members shot the shepherd in the head and posted his body to a wooden cross. Photo evidence showed the body leaning against a building painted with ISIS’s name and flag.

ISIS relies on symbolism in their attacks—like with the crucifixion—making their acts all the more terrifying for the people. CNN reported that another man killed by ISIS had his body covered in a red sign that read in Arabic, "This man fought Muslims and detonated an IED here."

The group justifies many attacks as revenge.  However, in February, Daily Mail reports that a young girl was stoned to death in Syria by ISIS. She had made a Facebook account and ISIS authority condemns the use of social media, equating it to adultery.

The Syrian government has left voids in the communities since the civil war, which has allowed ISIS to easily slip into power by preying on the people. ISIS has been using the absence of authority to seize it for themselves and issue dictates that comply to strict sharia law. CNN reports that decrees are posted on buildings that command: "All shop owners must close their stores immediately upon the announcement of prayer and go to the mosque. Any violators after the issuance of this announcement will face consequences."

ISIS forces the Christian minority to follow a different set of rules. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Christians must not recite prayers around Muslims, cannot repair churches, cannot display crosses, and must pay a special tax to militants.

ISIS’s rule is so harsh that even Al-Qaeda criticizes the group and cut ties with them. The imprisoned al-Qaeda leader, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi has written letters from jail condemning ISIS’s actions. The Long War Journal reports that Maqdisi wrote that their attacks on Muslims is “unlawful” and that the group has denied al-Qaeda leadership saying they “began to justify their sin and their transgression against the Mujahideen, as well as their rebellion against their leaders and their rejection of the advice of their leaders, under the guise that al Qaeda has deviated from the path of Jihad.”

The rules instated by ISIS have not been imposed since ancient Islamic times. Abbas Barzegar, assistant professor of Islamic studies at Georgia State University, told CNN,” It has become a standard feature of fringe Islamist groups to revive these outdated practices in an effort to bring back what they believe is authentic." And he goes on to say that what the group believes is “authentic” to Islam is to punish anyone who opposes God because they “deserve the highest form of punishment possible”.

There are Syrians that are confronting the extremist group. An anti-ISIS activist uses Facebook for updates, plans for protests, and posts of alleged crimes committed by ISIS. The anti-ISIS Facebook page currently has 12,000 followers.

Follow Allyson on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Contributing Journalist: @allysoncwright

Related articles

Women Seeking Safety Encounter Abuse in Syrian Refugee Camps

the-future-of-syria-birth-registration-and-statelessness-by-photo-unit.jpg

Michael Ransom, Senior CorrespondentLast Modified: 00:33 a.m. DST, 10 April 2014

Syria Bedouin Woman, Photo by Marc VeraartDAMASCUS, Syria – By every metric, the Syrian countryside is a war zone. Suburbs are subject to aerial attacks and corner stores have become foxhole retreats from city gunfights. The death toll now exceeds 150,000 lives. Massacres waged by Syrian troops and rebel forces alike continue to raise questions about the legitimacy of either side's agenda. All the while, ordinary people either defend their community or seek stability in a less contentious Syrian locale or border country.

Amidst the chaos, the international community places bets on either the Syrian Army or various rebel collectives. The United States, Russia and Iran make high-stakes wagers in the form of assault rifles, chemical weaponry and large-scale explosives. Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are also seated around this international card table. Given the current political landscape and the violations of basic human rights by the establishment and the rebellion, global efforts to arm either side are a gamble indeed.

One thing is certain. With increased weaponry provisions, a commensurate level of unfathomable bloodletting has followed throughout major cities like Damascus, Homs, Aleppo and Latakia. The widespread violence and continued threat of biological warfare has been a powerful impetus for Syrian migration to more stable nations. Over two million nationals have escaped the perimeter of their home country, while millions more try to cope in the crossfire. There, they face the reality of suicide bombers and large-scale attacks carried out by both factions.

Lebanon has been the principle destination for those people fleeing the ongoing turf war. To date, over one million Syrians have claimed refugee status in Lebanon, a staggering influx for a nation numbering less than five million before civil war broke in Syria three years ago. Thousands more seek safety in the Mediterranean nation every day. Lebanon has been a gracious host to Syrians seeking asylum, forgoing required permit fees upon entry and allowing their neighbors to live outside of designated treatment centers and refugee shelters.

Syrian migrants exercise this right, but not without adversity. Women are particularly affected by sexual abuse following their relocation. Human Rights Watch reports that female refugees are subject to improper advances and verbal abuse on a regular basis while living in their makeshift communities in Lebanon. Perpetrators range from employers to volunteers from religious institutions, according to HRW. The actual scope of abuses remains unknown, as many victims presumably have outstanding residency payments or have little faith in the criminal justice system. Assailants continue to act in the shadows of fear and silence.

For many of these women, leaving home meant a better life for themselves and their children. Rape is used in Syrian warfare as a tool of power and coercion against men, women and children indiscriminately. While President Bashar al-Assad and top leaders of various opposition forces have not openly condoned sexual assault of the enemy, the act is permissible and never punished internally. Externally, retaliatory rape is not uncommon. In a society where rape is taboo, victims are hushed and assaults go unreported. But anecdotal evidence confirms the disturbing and rampant nature of the mistreatment.

Journalist Lauren Wolfe directs The Women Under Siege project and discusses abuse against Syrian women in her feature Syria Has a Massive Rape Crisis. Wolfe cites a report from Ya Libnan news website in which a member of the Syrian Army was commanded to rape teenagers in late 2012. The girls were later slaughtered. Similarly, Wolfe describes a young rebel soldier who was arrested by Syrian forces. During his imprisonment, the man was forced to watch while Syrian security raped his fiancée, sisters, mother and other female acquaintances. Belligerents in both camps resort to these barbaric measures.

The mass-exodus of Syrians will continue so long as lawlessness persists. Massacres such as August's Ghouta chemical attack on civilians and the execution of 51 loyalist prisoners in July have only added fuel to vehicles of hate and violence. While the United States is heavily invested in the success of the rebellion, the White House now knows that many of these renegades are affiliated with al-Qaeda and other terror organizations. If history repeats itself, these weapons may be trained at their supplying nation in the future.

If the efforts of the States involved more non-lethal aid, certainly the people of the world would be grateful. The need for the increased protection of women is self-evident. When better mechanisms to report and convict perpetrators of sexual abuse are established in refugee camps, these facilities will truly be places of refuge.

Follow Michael on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Senior Correspondent: @MAndrewRansom

Syria's Newest Tool of Torture

body-of-7-year-old-boy-killed-by-a-syrian-army-in-dar-al-shifa-hospital-in-aleppo-syria-photo-by-peacock-almntouf.jpg

Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 12:42 p.m. DST, 19 February 2014

Dead Bodies Lie in Road in Retailiation for Rebel Killing of Soldier, Daraa Province, Aleppo, Syria, Photo by Peacock AlmntoufInternational partners worked for months in order to create a plan that would result in Assad ultimately handing over Syria’s stockpile of chemical weapons. Although Western countries and Syria-supporting countries like Russia disagreed over many factors, they finally agreed to an agenda that would take away Assad and his troops’ ability to torture and murder civilians by way of chemical weapons.

The process has frustratingly been delayed at several points and Syria still shows signs of missing deadlines, but at least the regime seems to  have not used these weapons since the agreement.

However, leave it to the disturbing minds of Assad and his troops to devise another sickening and inhumane way of terrorizing rebels and citizens alike. To target the opposition-held Aleppo,  Assad’s troops have crafted barrel bombs that are oil drums packed with explosives and shrapnel, that they then dump out of the back of helicopters which will then destroy several-story buildings and all living things nearby. Their intense destruction has earned them the nickname “barrels of death”.

The use of these barrels of death over the past few weeks has resulted in Aleppo becoming a ghost town, where more and more people flee the city and whole neighborhoods are emptied. This has also increased the number of those in mass exodus out of Syria and into neighboring countries that are bursting at the seams with the influx of refugees.

The latest talks on Syria ended without progress or resolution, even though the sense of urgency mounts every day. Thousands of Syrian children have spent so long fleeing war and seeking refuge that they no longer know what peace and a sense of safety feel like. Their hope for a future is diminishing with every failed stakeholders meeting and with every crime against humanity that Assad is allowed to get away with. Take away his chemical weapons, and he creates aerial “barrels of death.” Unfortunately, this pattern of warfare will not end until conclusive and decisive action is brought down upon the regime.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

Enhanced by Zemanta

United States Takes Steps towards a Syrian Intervention

bashar-al-assad-president-of-syria-photo-by-james-gordon.jpg

Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 01:35 a.m. DST, 28 August 2013

Syrian Protester in front of White House, Photo by KSR FotoSYRIA - As was posted a few days ago, the situation in Syria has worsened as reports of larger and more deadly chemical weapon attacks emerge. The UN sent in investigators to inspect and report back on the damage and death toll, but they have faced issues as Syrian authorities restrict their access to war sites and have even fired bullets at the UN vehicles.

Because the Syrian government is clearly behaving like a government who has something to hide, global leaders are making more advanced steps towards action and a potential intervention. In the last 48 hours, President Obama has held urgent phone calls and meetings with President Hollande of France, Prime Minister Cameron of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Harper of Canada, Prime Minister Rudd of Australia, and the United States National Security Council.

Furthermore, the United States government has taken steps to make it very clear to Syrian leaders that they have gone too far and are warranting an international response. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with Syrian Foreign Minister Muallim last week and warned him that without an immediate move towards transparency and access for outsiders, there would be consequences.

However, before the United States makes any serious strikes or actions, our nation's leaders must consult Congress and deliberate how best to handle the complicated situation. In the mean time, they have moved Navy destroyers and equipment closer to Syria in case an order is made. Based on this move and the feeling of increasing tension, some are saying that the US could strike as early as this Thursday. However, the choice of response by the international community will be based on information and intelligence that comes in within the next few days, hours and even minutes. Syria's actions are forcing countries and alliances who respect human rights to move towards the brink of military intervention, and this is unlikely to change unless Syria makes drastic changes immediately. Note: Be sure to check out Senator John Kerry's speech, where other statements by Senior Officials will be posted daily.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

The Latest Use of Chemical Weapons in Syria

dead-victims-of-syrian-civil-war-in-ghouta-region-photo-by-el-mundo-economc3ada-negocios.jpg

Jessamy Nichols, Africa CorrespondentLast Modified: 03:01 a.m. DST, 24 August 2013

Syrian Chemical Weapons, Photo by Jerusalem Prayer TeamGHOUTA REGION, Syria - President Assad's regime took violent attacks to a newly horrendous level as it has been reported that their latest chemical weapons attack killed over a thousand people.

It has been reported several times thus far that chemical weapons may have been used, and without serious enough sanctions or interventions, the Syrian government has chosen to move forward with their chemical weapon tactics.

These attacks reportedly took place in the Ghouta region which is east of Damascus, and mainly targeted women and children. Graphic pictures and videos continue to surface that display the atrocities and damage, but Syrian government representatives persistently release statements denying the accusations.

The disheartening reports coming out of the war-torn country have yet to subside and are unlikely to cease until the international community takes serious steps towards halting Assad's complete control over the country. Although Obama has threatened that a line would be crossed if Syria made use of chemical weapons and continued their widespread human rights violations, credible actions have yet to be taken.

In an effort to get more reliable information, the UN sent in chemical weapons investigators three days ago to investigate the situation and death tolls. Because none of the major global powers are looking to get involved unilaterally, they seem to be waiting on this investigation and its findings before taking serious action. Pending incriminating findings, members of the UN's Security Council are giving the impression that they would only intervene as a unit, instead of taking the risk on independently.

Regardless of the method the UN would potentially choose to stop the civil war in Syria, it is due time that it is halted. Time after time, bystanders say that they will never let genocide happen again, yet conflicts like the one in Syria rage on for months before anyone decides to step in. Chemical weapons are just one of the torturous instruments that Assad and his regime are employing, and the international community should be mindful of this before it can go any further.

Follow Jessamy on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Africa Correspondent: @JessamyNichols

Loss of Innocence for Syria’s Female Refugees

zaatari-refugee-camp-at-dusk-photo-by-emad-zyuob.jpg

Jessica Tanner, Staff WriterLast Modified: 15:44 p.m. DST, 1 July 2013

Mother and Child in Zaatari Refugee Camp, by Emad ZyuodThe Syrian women describe how even going to the bathroom in the Zaatari camps can be a threat. “There is no light, if we come in here there could be a guy hiding or something,” one of them says. None of the female refugees want to be identified. Their fear follows them, even as they seek refuge across the border in Jordan.

Zaatari is a refugee camp in Jordan, located 10 km east of Mafraq. It was first opened on July 28, 2012 to host Syrians fleeing the violence in the ongoing Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011.

According to Wikipedia, the camp population amounts to 19000-38000 refugees.

Even with the promise of “safety” for the female refugees, there is still another catch. Many of Syria’s female population have had to trade fear of death in their homeland for fear of something much worse: rape.

There have been various threats of sexual harassment and rape in the Zaatari camp – teeming with masses that continue to stream across the border. This crisis has resulted in a disturbing growing phenomenon: “sutra” marriages, or marriages for protection.

Many families who feel like they are unable to protect their female family members are marrying them off for their own safety. The majority of families are saying that they had no other alternatives.

According to one Syrian mother, “I swear I wasn’t able to sleep, I was afraid for the girls. I swear to God, I would not have let her get married this young if we were in Syria.”

Although the international community refuses to end the conflict in Syria, there is a solution to preventing the exploitation of the Syrian female population: more aid.

According to another Syrian mother, “We left Syria to escape death and we found something worse than death. If we had stayed in Syria to die it would have been more honorable. There death is fast, here it is slow.

Follow Jessica Tanner on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report Staff Writer: @JessTanner1991