Jordan executes two Iraqi jihadists at dawn in bloody revenge as hostage pilot burned alive by Isis
Jordan has reportedly executed two Iraqi jihadists at dawn today including a female failed suicide bomber in retaliation for the killing of its hostage pilot, Muath al-Kasaesbeh, by Isis (or Islamic State) after pictures were posted of him being burned alive.
Officials reacted furiously to the pictures and film of the pilot being burned alive, which went beyond anything yet seen in the "execution videos" of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil).
They were particularly angry because the method of death seemed to confirm reports that he had been killed several weeks ago. There had been rumours in early January that he had been burned, and officials said last night that they now believed he died on January 3.
Islamic State had previously demanded the release of the woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, in exchange for a Japanese hostage who was later killed by the terror group. Rishawi was executed at dawn, a security source and state television said.
That made a mockery of Isil's demands last week that the female suicide bomber, Sajida al-Rishawi, be released in return for Lt Kasaesbeh's safety, as well as the release of Kenji Goto, the Japanese journalist. That deal fell through after the jihadists were unable to provide Jordan with proof of life of the pilot. Mr Goto's killing was confirmed on Saturday.
Jordanian authorities were also under pressure from Lt Kasaesbeh's powerful Bedouin tribe, normally loyal to King Abdullah, which was demanding everything possible be done for his release.
They had held demonstrations carrying pictures of his face in front of government offices. Last night, there were reports of angry crowds gathering in his home town of Karak, south of the capital Amman.
Lt Kasaesbeh's father was told the news of his son's death over a mobile phone by the army's chief of staff.
"The military forces announce that the hero pilot, Muath al-Kasaesbeh, has fallen as a martyr, and ask God to accept him with the martyrs," said Gen Mamdouh al-Ameri, the Jordanian military spokesman, on state television after the pictures were circulated by jihadi social media forums. "While the military forces mourn the martyr, they emphasise his blood will not be shed in vain. Our punishment and revenge will be as huge as the loss of the Jordanians."
In the video, Lt Kasaesbeh is seen being led into a cage, watched by a line of jihadists in khaki fatigues and masks. As he appears to pray, one jihadist, "Emir Ahmed", steps forward to light the fuse stretching out across the ground.
There is no speech from the British executioner of Western hostages, known as Jihadi John, nor subtitles in English, as with videos of previous killings -perhaps a sign that this was a message being sent to the Arab world, not the West.
Lt Kasaesbeh is made to describe the operation which preceded his plane being brought down on December 24 last year, and footage is shown of people being pulled from the wreckage of a bombing raid. He then stands erect in a cage as oil that has been poured around him burns and consumes him. At the end, the cage and his remains are bulldozed.
The video, made using the same brash production techniques as before, is overlaid with religious chanting and the sound of a heartbeat.
King Abdullah II of Jordan cut short a visit to Washington with his foreign minister, Nasser Judeh, to return to Amman.
President Barack Obama said the video was "just one more indication of the viciousness and barbarity of this organisation. This organisation is only interested in death and destruction".
David Cameron said: "Muath Kasaesbeh's sickening murder will only strengthen our resolve to defeat Isil. My prayers are with his family tonight."
Lt Kasaesbeh was captured in Syria after being shot down near the de facto Isil capital of Raqqa, the first member of the anti-Isil coalition to be caught. Footage released from the scene showed Isil fighters dragging him half-naked from nearby Lake Tabqa. Rumours of his death by burning were circulated by the Twitter account of an underground anti-Isil group operating out of Raqqa on January 9. It said that Isil members had been heard "talking enthusiastically" about the killing.
The negotiations last week over Mr Goto's fate were a tumultuous expectations for the families of both men.
At one stage, it looked as if Mr Goto would be freed, after he was offered in exchange for Rishawi by the jihadists and Jordan said it was prepared to release her. Jordan also demanded the pilot's freedom, an order to which Isil gave no public answer. Instead, the jihadists said the pilot would be killed if Rishawi were not released, and Mr Goto "after". (© Daily Telegraph, London)