Two more lives are at risk in the Philippines after Abu Sayyaf, an al Qaeda-linked terrorist organization, threatened to behead hostages captured earlier this year. The captives, two Germans who were sailing in the South China Sea from the Palawan Island to Sabah, Malaysia, are to be executed by beheading on October 17 if the terrorists' demands are not met.
Several days ago, the Taliban beheaded 12 civilians in Afghanistan and the beheading of American journalist James Foley by the Islamic State shocked the world. ISIS has also executed journalist Steven Sotloff and aid worker David Haines, and most recently threatened the life of aid volunteer Alan Henning. Last week in Algeria the Caliphate Soldiers executed an innocent French mountaineer by beheading, publicly distributing the video, after demanding airstrikes be stopped.
Any death by beheading related to terrorism draws parallels to the killing of reporter Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by al-Qaeda in 2002. However, beheading in the name of Islam is certainly not a new development in the terrorist world. Islamic experts have long debated if the Koran alludes to an acceptance of beheading, as some organizations like the Tawhid wal Jihad have pointed to one particular passage to justify this act:
When you encounter the unbelievers on the battlefield, strike off their heads until you have crushed them completely; then bind the prisoners tightly.
While terrorist organizations pull from ancient texts and events, modern Muslim leaders have widely denounced the act. Ulema and mushaikh (high-level Islamic leaders) in Pakistan came to the conclusion that both beheadings and suicide attacks are "un-Islamic." The American Muslim Organization has repeatedly condemned the act and Canadian Imam Syed Soharwardy has said, "Any attack by foreign elements should also be considered a direct affront to the 10 million Muslims who call either Canada or the United States home."