Right now, I bet the family of Ms. Hassan, as well as many others around the world, are asking whether there is a god. She, who dedicated her life to helping others, has apparently been killed by her captors after they held her for weeks and forced her to beg for her life on camera.
Terrorism is very successful in sowing fear and dread. It is also very successful at creating moral complexities and imbalances for people who would otherwise seek to stay away from a violent approach to resolving differences.
With one beheading, broadcast internationally countless times, the terrorists successfully engage us in a form of sohisticated yet brutally primitive communication. We are to understand that they will stop at nothing to win and they hope that this revelation will force us to rethink our objectives and actions. Even if they don’t succeed in getting us to change our goals, they succeed in transforming us as people with certain moral codes and conduct because they successfully change the “values” of the conflict and bring them closer to their values.
In doing that, they achieve a small victory. Fortunately, we have so far, in Israel and in the US, been able to continue to win the war.