ISIS Executed Nearly 100 People in First Month of 2015

Burning alive of Jordanian pilot draws attention once more to group's cruelty, but latest execution was only one of many.

AP

The Islamic State jihadist militia has executed nearly 100 people in the first month of 2015 in Iraq and Syria, according to a monitoring group and security officials.

The burning alive of Jordanian pilot Mu'adh al-Kasasbeh is the type of cruelty that has won the group the headlines it seems to crave. It is the latest in a series of high profile hostages, including aid workers and journalists, who were executed in front of cameras.

In Syria, at least 50 people have been put to death by the extremist organization since January 1, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Some of these people killed were accused of blasphemy, prostitution, or homosexuality, the monitoring group said. Others were accused of spying for the Syrian government or for Israeli, Russian and Jordanian intelligence services.

Beheading, stoning to death or public crucifixions are often used by the group. Children are present in many instances, the Observatory noted.

Other Syrian rebel groups, including armed Islamist factions, have carried out 25 executions in the country.

In neighboring Iraq, residents in Islamic State-controlled areas and security officials reported 48 executions since the new year.

Half of those were of men accused of pretending to be Islamic State members in order to rob or extort locals.

The other victims included two Christian priests, two journalists, three female lawyers, three girls aged 14 to 20 killed for unclear reasons, and three Syrian leaders in the extremist group accused of spying for the authorities.

Most of the condemned were shot dead in public in the northern city of Mosul and nearby areas.

Rights groups, political analysts and the United Nations have argued that executions and abuses by government are exacerbating the conflict - and potentially increasing support for extremist groups, including the Islamic State.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have disappeared in government-run prisons since the conflict started in 2011, with many subsequently dying under torture, according to Human Rights Watch, a New York-based advocacy group.

In Iraq, pro-government Shiite militias have been accused of atrocities against Sunni civilians. On January 28, the militias were accused of killing 68 civilians in a village north of Baghdad, according to some accounts by locals.

Shiite attacks against Sunnis helped fuel anger against the government of former prime minister Nuri al-Maliki and led Sunnis to feel disenfranchised from the state, helping the Islamic State's rise in the past 15 months.

The Iraqi government too is one of the world's most prolific users of the death penalty, with over 150 executions carried out by November last year, according to Human Rights Watch.

A UN report last year said nearly all those condemned in trials it monitored were convicted on the basis of unsupported confessions or the evidence of secret informants.

Most defendants had no legal representation, and allegations they had been tortured were not seriously investigated.

UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein warned that abuses are "exploited" by extremists for their causes.