Secretary of State John Kerry: 'ISIS Is Guilty Of Genocide'

Secretary Of State John Kerry: ‘ISIS Is Guilty Of Genocide’

Secretary of State John Kerry announced today that he and the U.S. State Department find ISIS/ISIL guilty of genocide against Yazidis, Christians, and Shiite Muslims. In a bold press conference this morning, John Kerry lashed out at ISIS, calling the group “perverse” and sharply criticizing the way ISIS has treated women, ethnic and religious minorities, and after weighing the evidence at the behest of the U.S. Congress, the Secretary of State found that indeed ISIS’s behavior in the middle east constitutes genocide.

“The Islamic State’s entire worldview is based on eliminating those who do not subscribe to its perverse ideology,” John Kerry said to the press this morning.

The bold move by the otherwise quiet and diplomatic Kerry comes after the U.S. Congress pressured the State Department to investigate whether or not ISIS/ISIL is guilty of war crimes, and in particular, if their actions in the Middle East constitute genocide.

“Whoever whether in time of peace or in time of war and with the specific intent to destroy in whole or insubstantial part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group,” reads the official U.S. definition of genocide.

John Kerry’s strongly worded message to ISIS, that the terrorist group is guilty of genocide against Yazidi, Shiite Muslims, and Christians, carries little practical weight, but substantial symbolic weight. During his statements, John Kerry didn’t refer to ISIS by their preferred name, instead he opted to use the name viewed by the militant group as an insult: Daesh.

“Daesh is genocidal by self-proclamation, by ideology, and by actions – in what it says, what it believes and what it does,” Kerry said during the press conference.

Finding ISIS guilty of genocide might not carry any official legal penalty, nor will it open up military options against ISIS, but the U.S. Government officially charging ISIS with genocide is a big step in the right direction, according to some commentators like the Daily Signal. There has been ample evidence that ISIS is actively engaged in genocide against Yazidi and Shiite Muslim minorities, but claiming that ISIS has attempted genocide against middle-eastern Christians has been a bit harder to prove, reports the New York Times.

“[The Islamic State] castigates Yazidis as, quote, ‘pagans’ and ‘devil-worshippers’, and we know that Daesh has threatened Christians by saying that it will quote ‘conquer your Rome, break your crosses and enslave your women’, Shia Muslims meanwhile are referred to by Daesh as quote ‘disbelievers and apostates’ and are subjected to frequent and vicious attacks,” John Kerry said this morning, speaking on behalf of the U.S. State Department.

Genocide is a powerful charge to levy against a group like ISIS, who has, in the past, been at times dismissed, or underestimated. But with the recent attacks claimed by ISIS, and the continued violence against religious minorities in the Middle East and abroad, it’s clear that ISIS’s intent is indeed genocidal at its core.

The sentiments expressed by John Kerry this morning echo the sentiments of many international observers who have claimed that ISIS has been engaged in genocide of Yazidi, Shia Muslims, and Christians ever since its rise to power. The United Nations human rights investigators reported earlier last year that ISIS militants used genocide and war crimes as a part of their military campaigns in Syria and Iraq. Even the United State Holocaust Memorial Museum stated in a report that ISIS has been guilty of genocide against the Yazidi people in particular, and that their actions should be condemned by the international community.

“Even though they did not kill the entire group, they are removing the group from its lands, so the group is terminated because they can no longer live in their homeland. The intent is enough because the intention was to destroy, this is a perfect example of genocide,” said Luis Moreno-Ocampo a former prosecutor with the International Criminal Court.

[Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]