Taliban spokesman Qari Yousaf Ahmadi has invoked the religious tenet of an "eye for eye'' to justify, in advance, the murder of female Korean hostages held by his comrades. Qari suggested that killing the hostages would be morally justified because western military forces are holding female prisoners in Bagram and Kandahar, Afghanistan. Even though the South Korean hostages have not been accused of kidnapping or murdering anyone, sociopaths like Qari freely apply this religious principle of retribution to persons on the basis of nothing more than a perceived tribal affiliation between their intended victims and other persons deemed guilty of some offense.
But, leaving aside the morally vacuous assignment of guilt by perceived association, invoking the principle of an eye for an eye to justify murdering the hostages is especially perverse in light of the Taliban's history of unrestrained violence and murder.
To more modern minds culturally influenced by the call to "turn the other cheek," an eye for an eye might seem as if it affords great moral license to retaliate. But considered within the broader context of human nature, an eye for an eye is a call for great restraint. As moral progress goes, an eye for an eye stands as a great moral leap beyond the primitive framework of unmeasured retaliation for any perceived slight or offense. Thus, the moral strength of an eye for an eye lies not within the license to fulfill retribution, but within the command for restraint implied by a principle of limited retribution.
But, nothing about the Taliban has ever even hinted at such restraint and the kidnapping of the South Korean missionaries is no different in that regard. Abandoning any sense of proportionality, Qari's fellow thugs specifically selected innocent, defenseless human beings to be murdered in cold blood, allegedly to gain the freedom of their violent comrades who, not incidentally, would be free had they shown a measure of restrained decency in the first place.