ISIS' Barbaric Executions Actually Mimic North Korea's Public Killing of Christians?
While much in the international news today is dominated by the utter barbarity and heinousness in how the Islamic State tortures and executes its victims, a look back in history shows that it's possible the jihadis have taken pages from the torturous playbook of the authoritarian North Korean government.
On Monday, the Iraqi News reported that IS (also known as ISIS or ISIL) killed six of its own members who fled the battlefield in Iraq by crushing them to death with a bulldozer in the group's largest Iraqi stronghold of Mosul.
This is not the first time that the terrorist group has crushed its victims to death under the weight of heavy machinery. In a video released last October, a Syrian soldier is shown being crushed to death underneath a battle tank.
While it might seem unique when IS executes people it accuses of going against their so-called caliphate by publicly crushing them underneath heavy construction machinery or battle tanks, the regime of former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-il used a similar tactic when it publicly executed five Christians in November 1996 because of their faith in Christ.
A 2005 report issued by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom detailed a witness account of how three pastors and two elders were crushed underneath a steam roller in South Pyongan Province after their names and the names of 20 other Christians were found in a notebook that laid next to a Bible in a house demolished by the North Korean army.
The execution of the five Christians was carried out by soldiers who also forced a public crowd to watch.
"This steam roller was a large construction vehicle imported from Japan with a heavy, huge, and wide steel roller mounted on the front to crush and level the roadway prior to pouring concrete," the report states. "[T]hey were told 'If you abandon religion and serve only Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, you will not be killed.' None of the five said a word. Some of the fellow parishioners assembled to watch the execution cried, screamed out, or fainted when the skulls made a popping sound as they were crushed beneath the steam roller."
While the the five Christians leaders were crushed to death, the other 20 Christians were believed to have been sent to a labor camp where they were likely tortured, forced to do hard labor, or killed.
The North Korean army giving the Christian leaders a chance to renounce their faith is a tactic that was also reportedly used by IS last October when the group executed 11 Christian missionaries and a child of one of the missionaries in Syria.
Before their execution, IS sliced the fingertips off the child's hands and then told the father they would stop torturing his son if he just renounced his faith in Christ.
"When the team leader refused, relatives said the ISIS militants also tortured and beat him and the two other ministry workers," a report from Christian Aid Mission states. "The three men and the boy then met their deaths in crucifixion."
In May, it was reported that IS executed a number of its failed leaders by feeding them to ferocious dogs because they failed to "accomplish their chief duties."
The news of IS feeding its leaders to vicious dogs comes over two years after it was reported that dictator Kim Jong-un executed his uncle and a handful of others for treason by feeding them to hungry dogs.
Kim reportedly had his 67-year-old uncle and five of his uncle's aides stripped naked and placed in a cage where 120 dogs that hadn't been fed for five days killed the men.
Those reports also come about two years after North Korea's deputy public security minister, O Sang Hon, was "executed by flamethrower," as Kim was in the midst of purging dissidents with ties to his uncle from the government.
While IS is reportedly killing disabled babies and physically abusing infants born to religious minorities — such as one instance when a militant beat an 11-month-old infant and threw it against a wall — a former detainee in North Korea said in a 2012 Committee for Human Rights in North Korea report that a North Korean agent killed two newborn babies by stabbing them in the soft spot of the skull with forceps.
As IS has crucified Christians and other religious minorities who don't follow its brand of Sharia law, a report recently released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide noted that the North Korean government has executed Christians in the past by hanging them on crosses and setting them over a fire.
While IS' atrocities continue to appear in the news cycle, little is being reported about the atrocities and abuses going on in North Korea. Well over 1,382 people have been publicly executed by the North Korean government since 2000 and between 50,000 to 70,000 Christians face tortured and death in North Korean labor camps.
Last summer at the Catholic University of America, a North Korean defector named Sarah Liu, who was arrested in 1991 because of her Christian faith and spent three years in a labor camp before she was arrested again in 1996 and forced to spend another three years imprisoned, detailed how she was tortured by police and told to renounce Christ.
"The police took me to a police station and they asked a lot of information about my pastor and my friends. … And they ask me [to] give up Jesus Christ. [I said], I don't want to do that.' So, they beat me and they used the electric bar, an electric baton, that can shock your body and burn your skin," Liu said.
"So they put it to my head, my body, everywhere. And then they put it into my hands. It is painful. I was screaming. Then they put the baton in my mouth, so my whole mouth is so hurt, and I couldn't drink, couldn't eat and couldn't talk. They still asked information. And then, they give me me shock chains on my ankles."
For the past 14 years, North Korea has been ranked as the worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA's World Watch List.