Why Beheading is the Ultimate Motivator and
Why Orange is a Favorite Color of Terrorists
"In response to the Khaled ibn al Walid (Islamic army in Iraq) request, the Philippines will withdraw its humanitarian forces as soon as possible. In the name of the Filipino people and the name of humanity and the family of (Angelo) de la Cruz and his eight children, the government of the Philippines is pleading for his release." [Reuters]Thus spoke Filipino DFA Undersecretary Rafael Seguis as he read out a statement in Al-Jazeera TV, which the television station translated into Arabic, shortly after the expiry of a new execution deadline set by the militants. This development also came after a video footage showing the 46-year-old Angelo dela Cruz was being transferred to a "death chamber." A letter, allegedly from Angelo, was also read, in which he requested that he be buried in the Philippines after his execution.
It would seem that the GMA administration has backed down from its stubborn posturing not to withdraw our humanitarian contingent from Iraq. And in response, Angelo's captors, belonging to the Khaled ibn al-Walid Islamic Army in Iraq, promised to release Angelo on Tuesday [CNN Report]
Since the news blackout imposed by the Philippine government, the lingering question is: Was the decision to pull out too late already? Is Angelo already dead? Questions remain and nobody knows. As I write this post, the tension is still high and everyone here is still afraid of what will happen.
Beheading has emerged as the terrorist's main motivator in the 21st century. You might say that it's a no-brainer since who wouldn't be petrified with such a threat? Edward Volkman, a psychiatry professor at Temple University Hospital and School of Medicine in Philadephia, say "people react so viscerally to the decapitation executions because they identify strongly with the helpless victims, see the executioners as cruel foreigners, and are horrified by the grisly method of death." Volkman said the deaths seem crueler and more gruesome because the victim and the videotape audience are forced to anticipate the death sentence.
Dismemberment --- separation of any body part from the main whole, in this case decapitation --- becomes very unsettling because no one wants to contemplate facing an afterlife with head and body separated.
If my memory serves me right, this is a first for the Philippine government. Sure, we had the Flor Contemplacion and the Sarah Balabagan stories before, but this is the first time the nation faces a situation wherein a kababayan (compatriot) is threatened with death for no apparent reason at all, except for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
In history, beheading has been utilized as a means of execution in an aggregate of disparate societies such as ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, England, Germany, Japan, China, and France (where the guillotine was last used in 1977). History's famous beheading victims include personalities like John the Baptist, Anne Boleyn, King Charles I, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Marie Antoinette.
These days, beheading is the accepted form of capital punishment only in a few nations, particularly Saudi Arabia, where 53 people were publicly beheaded last year for crimes such as murder, rape and drug trafficking. Muslim clerics say that the Holy Qur'an and the Islamic law state that murderers, not innocents, can be sentenced to death, but only after a proper trial including testimony from valid witnesses.
One more thing that puzzles me is the orange clothing of the hostages. The decapitation deaths of kidnapped Americans Nicholas Berg in Iraq last month, Paul M. Johnson Jr in Saudi Arabia, and South Korean Kim Sun-il, all showed them wearing orange overalls.
What is so special about orange?
I will appreciate and welcome it if readers can share any idea behind this. My own research tells me that the orange fixation of these kidnappers is due to their sypathies to suspected Islamic Al-Qaeda prisoners of war being held at the US Military Police at the Guantanamo, Cuba. The orange color seems to connote the meaning of "retaliation against persecution." Read here.
There is a lot of psychological warfare going on lately. Angelo's kidnappers are not new to this. We are.
I hope he is still alive and be released soon.
UPDATE: Due to the graphic nature of the Paul Johnson images, I have decided to remove it and just made a link for those who want to see them.