Pilot murder adds new dimension to Isil's barbarity
Of all the grotesque acts of evil committed by Isil fanatics against their helpless captives, the murder of the Jordanian air force pilot Lt Muath Kasaesbeh raises international revulsion at their practices to an entirely new level.
To date we have had public beheadings, crucifixions, stonings and gays being thrown to their deaths from high-rise buildings.
But the manner in which Lt Kasaesbeh was murdered, burnt alive in a cage after being covered in oil, adds an entirely new dimension to Isil's barbarity, one that is designed to grab international attention as much as it is to impose its brutal form of retribution.
From the moment Lt Kasaesbeh's fighter jet crashed on a bombing mission against Isil, it was always unlikely that he would return home alive after being taken captive by Isil militants.
Hundreds of Isil fighters, as well as some civilians, have been killed as a result of air strikes carried out by Jordanian war planes, which are flying sorties as part of the US-led coalition's military campaign against Isil.
But in choosing to burn the pilot to death, Isil is deliberately seeking to achieve maximum publicity for its capture of the pilot, as well as seeking to provoke political discord in Jordan, where feelings are decidedly mixed about Jordan's participation in the military campaign.
There are many among the country's impoverished Muslim population who support Isil's anti-Western agenda, and the Hashemite monarchy that has ruled the country since independence has already been the subject of several suicide bombings, including the attempt by Sajida al-Rishawi, the failed suicide bomber who was among two jihadists hanged yesterday morning by the Jordanian authorities in retaliation for the pilot's murder.
The challenge now for King Abdullah will be to maintain stability following one of the worst atrocities the country has faced in its history.
King Abdullah, Jordan's pro-Western monarch, is right when he says that Isil's murderous ideology has no place in Islam: his challenge is to persuade the rest of the Jordanian people that he is right, and Isil is wrong.
(© Daily Telegraph, London)