News Middle East

Monday 23 April 2018

Jordan's king pledges severe response to pilot killing

Thousands of Jordanians take to the streets to protest at the burning alive of pilot Muath Al-Kasebeh by Isil
Thousands of Jordanians take to the streets to protest at the burning alive of pilot Muath Al-Kasebeh by Isil
Muath al-Kaseasbeh

Richard Spencer

The horrific fate of a captured Jordanian pilot, burned to death by the Islamic State group, has unleashed a wave of grief and rage across the Middle East.

The gruesome video of the last moments in the life of 26-year-old Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh, crossed a line - beyond the beheadings of Western hostages at the hands of Isil.

The shock caused by the images of Lt Kasaesbeh's death galvanised support for the coalition in Arab countries where there had previously been some popular opposition, including Jordan itself.

Jordan's King Abdullah II promised to fight back hard against the killing, vowing a severe response, he said that the pilot's death would not be in vain.

Read More: Jordan's king vows to wage 'harsh' war against Islamic State group

The country reacted immediately by executing two Isil-linked jihadists before dawn yesterday including Sajida al-Rishawi.

She was the Iraqi woman failed suicide bomber whom Isil demanded in exchange for the release of Kenji Goto, the Japanese journalist being held hostage.

After Jordan refused to release her without proof of life for Lt Kasaesbeh, Goto was beheaded.

Rishawi was on death row for her part in the mass suicide bombing of three hotels in the Jordanian capital, Amman, which killed 57 people in 2005. Her own suicide vest failed to detonate.

The other prisoner was Ziad al-Karbouli, another Iraqi who had been convicted of murder and being a member of al-Qa'ida. Both were hanged at Swaqa prison south of Amman at 4am.

Jordan's King Abdullah II vowed a "severe" response yesterday, having cut short a visit to the United States.

"The blood of martyr Moaz al-Kasaesbeh will not be in vain and the response of Jordan and its army after what happened to our dear son will be severe," he said.

There were brief protests criticising the government's handling of the case in Lt Kasaesbeh's home town of Karak on Tuesday evening.

However, there was a stronger mood throughout the country of unity in the face of the killing.

"For the first time, I see unprecedented unity on social media of both Jordanian and Arab thought against this crime," a well-known Jordanian blogger, Deema Alam al-Deen, said.

"There are people, and I'm one of them, who have believed that the war against terrorism was our war ever since the 2005 bombing. But some people who used to think that this was not our war after what happened yesterday all are now convinced that Jordan must act."

From the world's most prestigious seat of Sunni Islam learning, Cairo's Al-Azhar Mosque, Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb said the IS militants deserve the Quranic punishment of death, crucifixion or the chopping off of their arms for being enemies of God and the Prophet Muhammad.

"Islam prohibits the taking of an innocent life," al-Tayeb said.

However, by burning the pilot to death, he added, the militants violated Islam's prohibition on the immolation or mutilation of bodies - even during wartime. In the wake of the atrocity the US-led coalition against Isil suffered a blow after the United Arab Emirates pulled out of air strikes.

Emirati leaders were said to be angry at the lack of coalition air rescue facilities, which they said put their own pilots at risk of the same fate as Lt Kasaesbeh.

UAE officials suggested they were unhappy with the way the coalition was being led, particularly in Iraq where it is effectively providing air cover for ground operations that contain a strong presence of Iranian-backed militias. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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