How can one define a phenomenon like ISIS that has made even Al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Boko Haram and the Khomeinist gangs appear “moderate” in comparison?
The international community faced a similar question in the 18th century when pirates acted as a law unto themselves, ignoring even the most basic norms of human interaction. The conundrum was discussed in lengthy negotiations that led to the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) and the Treaty of Rastatt (1714). In order to define the lawless pirates, a new judicial concept was developed: crime against humanity. Individuals who committed that crime would be described as “enemies of mankind” or “hostis humani generis” in Latin. That meant that individuals and groups convicted of such a crime were no longer covered by any penal code or even the laws of war. They had set themselves outside humanity by behaving like wild beasts.
In the 18th century Britain used the concept to hunt down pirates across the globe, notably in the Caribbean. Thomas Jefferson, the third US President, invoked the same principle to justify sending an expedition to wipe out pirates in Algiers. After the Second World War, the Allies used the same concept to put Nazi chiefs on trial in Nuremberg. For the past 10 years, the United Nations has referred to the same concept in a series of trials against the Khmer Rouge mass-killers in Cambodia.
ISIS represents a marriage of nihilism and crimes against humanity. Like the pirates of yesteryear it has attracted criminals from many different nationalities. In fact, the European Union estimates that 2,000 of ISIS’s 10,000 fighters are citizens of EU states. There are also Tajiks, Uzbeks, Pakistanis and Russians from Dagestan. Because ISIS does not want anything specific, there can be no negotiations with it. Because it recognizes no laws, not even the laws of Islam, there is no reason why it should be treated with judicial kid gloves.
ISIS is not an Iraqi or Syrian or Lebanese problem, but a problem for the human family as a whole. It is not the enemy of any particular religion, sect or government: it is an enemy of humanity and deserves to be treated as such. »»» ASHARQ AL-AWSAT
In recent weeks large numbers of Muslim scholars have declared that the so-called “Muslims” of ISIS are committing one of the most serious crimes under Muslim law. Their activities of rape, pillage, brigandage, destruction, murder, forced conversion, civil disruption and terrorism are subsumed in Islamic law under at least three Arabic words: hibarah, fasad and irjaf. The Qur’an calls such behaviour “spreading mischief in the land” and “waging war against Allah and his Prophet”. ISIS is not really an Islamist group. It is an international association for psychotics and sadists.
» 21 August 2014