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Continued Killings Could Bolster Need For Action Against ISIS


Today, another family is mourning the loss of a man kidnapped, held hostage, then murdered by the extremists known as the Islamic State. British aid worker David Haines became the third hostage in a month whose was apparent beheading has been filmed and released online. Militants threaten to kill a second British hostage next. NPR's Alice Fordham asks whether this could shift Western public opinion in favor of more aggressive military action.

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: The videos have become grimly familiar. The black-masked fighter stands in the desert, wielding a knife. The hostage kneels, wearing orange. And before the killing, both men make speeches condemning Western intervention against the Islamic State and calling for it to end. But some analysts say, the videos may have the opposite effect, catalyzing public opinion in favor of action against the extremists. From the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Anthony Cordesman...

ANTHONY CORDESMAN: What the videos did, in a way, was have an important impact on American public opinion. They dramatize the strength of movements like the Islamic State. They show that it can challenge the United States.

FORDHAM: He says, the videos could increase support for the military operations now underway, which of already involved at least 160 American airstrikes in Iraq. President Obama is working to build an international coalition against the extremists. Tomorrow, world leaders will gather in Paris to discuss strategy against the Islamic State. British prime minister David Cameron will be there. He responded to the murder of the British aid worker with strong words this morning.


DAVID CAMERON: The United States is taking direct military action. We support that. British tornadoes and surveillance aircraft have been helping with intelligence gathering and logistics.

FORDHAM: Military action in Iraq is a highly sensitive issue in the U.K., where there was widespread opposition to former prime minister Tony Blair's decision to participate in the 2003 invasion. But Shashank Joshi from the Royal United Services Institute think tank says that the release of this latest video could change things.

SHASHANK JOSHI: Honestly, one of the things that Cameron has been struggling with is uncertainty over the degree of support he anticipates in Parliament. And the fact is a beheading like this, with another British hostage still in harm's way, effectively means he has an easier task of securing parliamentary support and an easier task of selling his message at home.

FORDHAM: Joshi thinks Haines' death will likely contribute to a larger British role in the operations than would've been possible a few days ago. Alice Fordham, NPR News, Baghdad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alice Fordham is an NPR International Correspondent based in Beirut, Lebanon.
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