We drove through the main highway in the Kurdish town of Mukhmur. Suddenly our guide noticed a few cars that pulled off the side of the road. Several drivers had already gotten out.
They saw something. Someone.
We pulled over and followed them down to the center of attention. It … he was a dead ISIS fighter. Several Peshmerga (Kurdish soldiers) gathered around the corpse. Then two camera crews joined the group. Some took pictures and videos on their iPhones. The fighter looked like a young man, maybe early twenties.
His singed body, with bullet holes in his hand, lay in the unforgiving Iraqi sun. It had begun to stiffen. He died one day earlier when the Peshmerga drove ISIS from this battleground town.
Suddenly ISIS -- this terror group I’d seen mainly in propaganda videos -- became more real … and more vulnerable.
Death rides on the ISIS highway but usually they’re in the killing driver’s seat -- beheading journalists like James Foley or murdering Christians, Yazidis, and the rest of Iraq’s religious mosaic.
Now one ISIS fighter lay fallen in this latest Middle East battlefield.
I wondered, “What possesses a young man to live and die for ISIS’s barbaric goals?” Those goals demand conversion to Islam or death … those goals exile multitudes from ancient homelands … and those goals declare a utopian Islamic caliphate where the infidel is persona non grata or dead.
ISIS divides the world into two classes: the true believer and the infidel (many times other Muslims) where they live as second class citizens or not at all.
From where does such venom arise?
Dr. Sarah Ahmad, from the Foundation for Reconciliation and Relief in the Middle East, has been privy to many horrific ISIS stories.
As an example, she told us that abducted women are used as sex slaves and scheduled at different times of the day with various ISIS men.
"It's just so hard to hear all these stories and imagine a human being doing this. It's so hard. It's the work of the devil," she concluded.
Paul reminds us in Ephesians, "We fight not against flesh and blood but against powers and principalities, rulers of this world darkness and wicked spirits in heavenly places.” (Ephesians 6:12)
It is the devil.
A mad, diabolical, demonic idea drives the men of ISIS and along with a growing military machine this idea is sweeping across much of the Levant.
The world is witnessing the emergence of a malevolence not yet seen in our time.
Well-armed, well-financed and well-motivated, they’re doing what no one thought they could. They’ve declared a caliphate, a region ruled by Islam’s Sharia law. They’ve announced they’re coming after the United States. Their ultimate goal remains a world under the heel of Islam.
God forbid they acquire a weapon of mass destruction.
Their murderous rampages seem like death itself, with its sickle stalking the killing fields of what used to be Syria and Iraq.
Will the world rise up to this challenge of our age? We will see.
Later on we drove by where our young ISIS terrorist lay. A pile of dirt covered his body … an ignominious end to a wasted life.
Tragically it’s a fate too many lives in this chaotic Middle East have met. Whether it’s a dead ISIS fighter on the side of the road or the tragic end of journalist James Foley, death rides on the ISIS highway.
Lest we lose hope, thankfully, Paul also reminds us in Ephesians 6:13, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”