In 2014, New York Times author Peter Baker wrote of ISIS said “This is evil incarnate.” Few would disagree.
U.S. special forces reportedly captured a document from the ISIS terror group earlier this year that decrees the harvesting of human organs from so-called "apostates" to save the lives of Muslims (story is here.). Reuters reported that the document contained a fatwa from ISIS's Islamic scholars dated Jan. 31 of this year.
"The apostate's life and organs don't have to be respected and may be taken with impunity," says the document purported to be from the group's Research and Fatwa Commitee. "Organs that end the captive's life if removed: The removal of that type is also not prohibited."
It was claimed in February 2015 that 12 doctors in the ISIS-held city of Mosul were killed for refusing to remove patient's organs.
Erica Belibtrue records here in Biblical Archeology Review (Jan/Feb 1991) the grisly history of the ancient Assyrian empire,
Assyrian national history, as it has been preserved for us in inscriptions and pictures, consists almost solely of military campaigns and battles. It is as gory and bloodcurdling a history as we know.
Assyria emerged as a territorial state in the 14th century B.C. Its territory covered approximately the northern part of modern Iraq. The first capital of Assyria was Assur, located about 150 miles north of modern Baghdad on the west bank of the Tigris River. The city was named for its national god, Assur, from which the name Assyria is also derived.
From the outset, Assyria projected itself as a strong military power bent on conquest. Countries and peoples that opposed Assyrian rule were punished by the destruction of their cities and the devastation of their fields and orchards.
... The inscriptions and the pictorial evidence both provide detailed information regarding the Assyrian treatment of conquered peoples, their armies and their rulers. In his official royal inscriptions, Ashurnasirpal II calls himself the “trampler of all enemies … who defeated all his enemies [and] hung the corpses of his enemies on posts.” The treatment of captured enemies often depended on their readiness to submit themselves to the will of the Assyrian king:
“The nobles [and] elders of the city came out to me to save their lives. They seized my feet and said: ‘If it pleases you, kill! If it pleases you, spare! If it pleases you, do what you will!’”
In one case when a city resisted as long as possible instead of immediately submitting, Ashurnasirpal proudly records his punishment:
“I flayed as many nobles as had rebelled against me [and] draped their skins over the pile [of corpses]; some I spread out within the pile, some I erected on stakes upon the pile … I flayed many right through my land [and] draped their skins over the walls.”
The account was probably intended not only to describe what had happened, but also to frighten anyone who might dare to resist. To suppress his enemies was the king’s divine task. Supported by the gods, he always had to be victorious in battle and to punish disobedient people:
“I felled 50 of their fighting men with the sword, burnt 200 captives from them, [and] defeated in a battle on the plain 332 troops. … With their blood I dyed the mountain red like red wool, [and] the rest of them the ravines [and] torrents of the mountain swallowed. I carried off captives [and] possessions from them. I cut off the heads of their fighters [and] built [therewith] a tower before their city. I burnt their adolescent boys [and] girls.”
A description of another conquest is even worse:
“In strife and conflict I besieged [and] conquered the city. I felled 3,000 of their fighting men with the sword … I captured many troops alive: I cut off of some their arms [and] hands; I cut off of others their noses, ears, [and] extremities. I gouged out the eyes of many troops. I made one pile of the living [and] one of heads. I hung their heads on trees around the city.”
... From the reign of Shalmaneser III, Ashurnasirpal II’s son, we also have some bronze bands that decorated a massive pair of wooden gates of a temple (and possibly a palace) at Balawat, near modern Mosul. These bronze bands display unusually fine examples of bronze repoussé (a relief created by hammering on the opposite side).
In a detail, we see an Assyrian soldier grasping the hand and arm of a captured enemy whose other hand and both feet have already been cut off. Dismembered hands and feet fly through the scene. Severed enemy heads hang from the conquered city’s walls. Another captive is impaled on a stake, his hands and feet already having been cut off. In another detail, we see three stakes, each driven through eight severed heads, set up outside the conquered city. A third detail shows a row of impaled captives lined up on stakes set up on a hill outside the captured city. In an inscription from Shalmaneser III’s father, Ashurnasirpal II, the latter tells us, “I captured soldiers alive [and] erected [them] on stakes before their cities.”
... If anything, Sennacherib surpassed his predecessors in the grisly detail of his descriptions:
“I cut their throats like lambs. I cut off their precious lives (as one cuts) a string. Like the many waters of a storm, I made (the contents of) their gullets and entrails run down upon the wide earth. My prancing steeds harnessed for my riding, plunged into the streams of their blood as (into) a river. The wheels of my war chariot, which brings low the wicked and the evil, were bespattered with blood and filth. With the bodies of their warriors I filled the plain, like grass. (Their) testicles I cut off, and tore out their privates like the seeds of cucumbers.”
The ancient Assyrian culture, renowned for its cruelty and barbarism, was infested with demonic entities like Pazuzu (featured in the movie "The Exorcist"; image is below). The old demons are back with a vengeance, accounting for the never-ending bloodthirsty rage of ISIS.
A strong argument for regional demonization is found in the three-week delay of the angelic messenger to Daniel who was opposed by “the Prince of Persia” (Dan. 10:12-13). Many scholars understand this to refer to an evil entity over the Persian nation, race, and land. Two classic references to Satanic domination over earthly kingdoms are when Isaiah and Ezekiel are addressing the kings of Babylon and Tyre (lsa. 14:12-14; Ezek. 28:12-16). An interesting case of seeming diabolic attachment to a geographic location is found in the “Legion” (Mark 5:1-20) begging Jesus not to send them out of the region. The glorified Lord called Pergamum the place where “Satan’s throne is” (Rev. 2:13, KJV). Jesus also spoke concerning the religious life of Smyrna, identifying the synagogue there as belonging to Satan (Rev. 2:9-10).
Demonic principalities are thus sometimes Biblically associated with places, tribes and nations. And given the opportunity to return they apparently can do so with a vengeance. With the rise of ISIS, the ancient foe against which the Jews first fought and the Holy Spirit subsequently subdued as the apostles brought the light of Christ to Mesopotamia, has now returned to infest the hearts and minds of modern day Assyrians with the same bloodlust as their ancestors. The irrational, barbaric and cruel violence in Northern Iraq and Syria is a resurgence of the ancient evil.
Secularist politicians cannot perceive the spiritual dimension of the powerful evil that is surging forth. They foolishly believe that a worldly cause of the evil can be identified and rectified, or that it can be reasoned with and a diplomatic solution is possible.
Staunchly secular humanist western culture naively believes itself to have reasoned everything out. In its' limited worldview there are no longer “things seen and unseen”; there are only things which science has not yet explained. This is precisely why, as Ambassador Ryan Crocker said, “we don’t understand real evil, organized evil, very well.” Adding to our impotence, the post-Christian and post-faith western leadership is no longer capable of offering meaningful public prayer, or even willing to credit heaven with anything but twinkling stars. A supreme example of this stunted worldview is found here in an article published in New Scientist in Nov 2015 entitled "Is evil a disease? ISIS and the neuroscience of brutality". The author concludes,
Fried is not a proponent of using drugs to treat Syndrome E. Instead, he thinks we should use our growing neuroscientific knowledge to identify radicalisation early, isolate those affected and help them change. “The signs and symptoms should be made widely known, so that people can spot them,” he says. When it comes to prevention, he thinks education is probably the key. And in that, at least, he agrees with his detractors.
Former Prime Minister Tony Blair was scolded by his own government that “we don’t do God” and President Obama, who once foolishly defined the notion of “sin” as being “out of alignment with my values” would be very unlikely to attempt to humbly lead the nation in prayer.
ISIS is not "junior-varsity" evil.
In Aug 2014, Elizabeth Scalia prophetically wrote that the West lacks one essential tool to defeat ISIS. She said,
Only the tools and language of faith can comprehend the supernatural origins and depths of this evil — not only comprehend it, but confront it. In London, the black flag of IS was flown from the front gate of a housing unit. Journalists seeking information were threatened, and they eventually backed off; officials were slow to arrive and check it out. One local nun — one, singular – an older woman managing a community outreach center — took it upon herself to remove it, and she did.
Likely, she will have to do it again, and again. Likely, she has made a target of herself, to some diabolically disoriented mind, somewhere.
In the future – in the very near future, I fear — peaceful people of all faiths will need to take that sister’s small, risky move to heart, and follow her example. As Thomas McDonald said, we all did this. We will all have to act. We will have to recognize evil when we see it and be ready to confront it – not without fear, but in the knowledge that there is a power greater than evil, the genuine force for good, into which we may tap. A light that, when met with the black depths of darkness advertised by the flag of IS, cannot be overcome.
We are finally awake to, and witnessing, the first plumes of flame of a conflagration that wishes to devour the world. That our leadership may not yet want to admit it is almost understandable, but IS must be defeated and, as this editorial board recognizes, “it will not collapse on its own.”
It will be up to the people of faith to demonstrate – charitably, and consistently – to the secular West, and to its reluctant leaders, that governments will have to add the missing component of faith to all of its arsenals — military, rhetorical, and diplomatic. Only then will the thing that calls itself IS — in God’s own time, and not without great struggle — crumble before the Reality that proclaims I AM.
The demonic evil manifested in the rise of ISIS is frighteningly real and cannot be overcome with the force of worldly power alone, but ultimately only through intense and protracted spiritual warfare. We must take to heart the words of the apostle Paul to the Galatian church: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Eph 6:12)