(DAILY BEAST) Public crucifixions are mostly ceremonial these days, staged rituals that some Christian communities enact as part of their Easter observance. But the real thing may be returning to Syria. Two men were reportedly crucified in Raqqa on Tuesday, their bloody corpses displayed in the center of a town controlled by the most severe of Syria’s Islamist factions.
Among the forms of slaughter that have become commonplace in Syria’s civil war, crucifixion may be no more brutal than barrel bombs or sarin gas attacks. But the revival of an ancient form of torture is one sign of what life is like under the rule of one of Syria’s powerful Islamist factions. And it’s an indication that, despite years of public hand-wringing in the West over Syria’s bloody and rapid decline, the country is continuing to plummet into new depths of the abyss.
Below the photo of a crucified body, the message on a jihadist Twitter account reads, “One of 7 people executed by ISIS in Raqqa today on charges of planting IEDs,” or improvised explosive devices. The person behind the account, which is not being linked here to prevent driving traffic to a jihadist site, claims to be a member of the Islamic State in Iraq and the ash-Sham (ISIS), an Islamist group that was repudiated by al Qaeda in early 2014, in part for being so extremist that they became a “liability to the al-Qaeda brand,” according to Aaron Zelin, a jihadi-watcher at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
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