Egypt’s War: Delivering Justice Against ISIS

Yesterday ISIS released a video of its forces in Libya beheading 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. Their crime? Being Christian. There was no attempt to negotiate their release. There was no demand for a prisoner swap. There was a simple and brutal execution. They were executed because of their faith.

This should not surprise. In the past 18 months ISIS has committed ethnic cleansing and attempted genocide against Christians, Yazidis and Shiites that lived in the territories it controls in Syria and Iraq. They kill and maim Sunnis who do not adhere to its worldview. Last week they aired a video of the burning alive of Jordanian pilot Muath Kassassbeh.

ISIS commits genocide. ISIS commits ethnic cleansing. ISIS practices slavery. ISIS glorifies a grotesque level of brutality…. ISIS should be destroyed.

Since World War II the world has promised that genocide will no longer be permissible. We failed in that promise. We failed in Cambodia. We failed in Rwanda. So far we are failing in Iraq and Syria.

The policies of most Arab governments to date has been to ignore ISIS, to hope that the “West” will take care of the problem before it gets too big. We can no longer afford this luxury. Last week, ISIS brought its war home to Jordan. This week, ISIS has brought its war to Egypt.

Egyptian President, Sisi, has openly declared that Egypt reserves the right to retaliate for the killings of the 21 Copts. King Abdullah of Jordan vowed similar measures after the killing of Muath. Barack Obama recently asked Congress to authorize the use of military force against ISIS in Syria. It is crucial that these words take form in true action against ISIS. It is equally crucial that the battle against ISIS not be solely a military one.

ISIS has committed a number of war crimes in its campaigns across the Middle East. Its leadership must be held accountable for these crimes. Bombs alone will not expose the hollow ideology that ISIS espouses. Its leadership must be brought to Justice. They must be tried in an international court for the crimes that they have committed and continue to commit.

To achieve this legal recourse and deliver justice to the victims a military victory is imperative. ISIS’s ideology is successful because it has land, wealth and weapons. It is imperative that we deprive it of all three. Only then can the search for true justice and the attempt to rehabilitate our region begin.

Tewfik Cassis, Egypt


Tewfik Cassis received a BSc in Management Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and is a graduate of the Cairo American College. He is currently a second year student at Harvard Business School. Most recently, Tewfik served as Head of Business Development for Roominate, an educational toy company based in Palo Alto, aimed at closing the gender gap in STEM fields. Prior to that he worked for McKinsey’s Dubai office focusing on Telecommunications, Marketing and Sales projects. Tewfik was part of the founding team of Romulus Capital, a student-run VC fund. As an undergrad he was an Executive Editor for the MIT International Review. He has an interest in the global political economy with a particular focus on Middle Eastern politics and conflict resolution.

  • Ahmed Adly

    A very enlightening article! Down to the point with no political agenda.

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