They sometimes refer to westerners as "crusaders", but they are the ones taking territory and purging people they find insufficiently faithful and behaving as if they have a goal to spread their banner far and wide. These seem like a kind of crusade, to me. And people sometimes look at their propaganda arm as being "sophisticated". They do post videos and have recruited even from people living in a more westernized or cosmopolitan milieu. But then there's the beheading thing.
Today we learned of the fate of another American at their hands, one Peter Kassig, an aid worker. He took on the name Abdul-Rahman in captivity having been "converted". I have a hard time viewing that to be his legitimate name because I am morally opposed to torture and Stockholm syndrome isn't the same as a purely voluntary commitment of faith. I have a feeling that what Mr. Kassig experienced was not pleasant.
The BBC article explains:
Unlike earlier videos, this one revels in gore. Amongst the boiler-suited captives murdered in cold blood is a man IS says is the former US soldier Peter Kassig, who converted to Islam and changed his name to Abdul-Rahman.
Neither his conversion, nor the fact that he was helping refugees when he was captured a year ago, appear to have saved him.
I highlighted that last sentence because that's what gets to me--if Kassig, as "Abdul-Rahman" (which translates as "servant of the most merciful god") had actually converted, then what ISIL did there was brutally and bloodily murder a brother. Is this a martyrdom? Does it make sense to kill a person who now believes as you do, and was, in any event, not a threat, but working to help people? Does it project strength to do such a thing--or does it rather say that these are people it does no good to agree with, because in the long run they just prefer beheading people anyway?
And if they don't consider him to have properly converted to their way of thinking after about a year in captivity, if he were still a kafir, why lie and say otherwise? What purpose does it serve to boast of his conversion but kill him in just such a way that implies that calling him a muslim is being done to humble him and the culture from which he came. Which is very strange--to use calling him a muslim as an insult!
So, either they are evil people who kill non-combatant fellow believers for no compelling reason, or they are grotesque liars who pervert their faith while killing brainwashed westerners--for no compelling reason. I see no scenario that makes things like this work rationally. I have to assume, then, that truth means nothing to them at all. Anything could be true. What matters is...?
(As an agnostic, I feel really weird faith-checking people, but there we are!)