Speed Reads

ISIS

Obama calls latest ISIS beheading 'an act of pure evil,' others see act of desperation

On Sunday, from Air Force One, President Obama confirmed that Islamic State has killed American aid worker and former soldier "Abdul-Rahman Kassig, also known to us as Peter," underscoring the fact that ISIS killed a fellow Muslim. "Abdul-Rahman was taken from us in an act of pure evil by a terrorist group that the world rightly associates with inhumanity," Obama said. "Like Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff before him, his life and deeds stand in stark contrast to everything that ISIL represents."

The gruesome video that ISIS released to confirm Kassig's murder was different than previous videos, showing the 26-year-old's severed head but not the act of decapitation. It was also grainer and generally of poorer production quality. Analysts suggest to The New York Times that ISIS either didn't have enough time outside to film their elaborately choreographed executions, since armed U.S. drones and planes are on patrol, or Kassig didn't cooperate.

ISIS "is bleeding," says Fawaz A. Gerges at CNN, "and the beheading of Kassig shows ISIS' desperation to lash out, to show that it still has options."