Jordan seeks revenge after the Islamic State (ISIS) released a video of the execution of a pilot on Tuesday. This was a surprise move following negotiations for a prisoner exchange between the Jordanian government and ISIS. The pilot had been captured after his plane crashed in Syria on December 24, the first, and so far, only, pilot to be captured since air strikes began last year.
Last week, Jordan agreed to release Sajida al-Rishawi, who faces execution for her participation in a 2005 hotel bombing in Amman, in exchange for the pilot. However, Jordanian TV reported that the pilot had been executed by burning on January 3, which calls negotiations into question. If the execution had in fact taken place early last month, further negotiations for an exchange have been meaningless. This makes the confusion surrounding the Islamic State’s motives even more unclear.
While ISIS has executed many prisoners before, the killing of the pilot is the first time a high profile prisoner has been burned to death. Previously, prisoners have been beheaded or shot. IntelCenter, an organization which monitors extremist websites, said that this displays the continual evolution of the Islamic State’s methods to gain exposure for its actions.
In revenge for the execution, the government has threatened action “as huge as the loss of the Jordanians.” An anonymous security official told Associated Press that the government planned to execute a prisoner at dawn on Wednesday. An army spokesperson said that the martyr’s “blood will not be shed in vain.” The military might also escalate attacks on ISIS, which King Abdullah II has called a deviant group with no connection to true Islam.
Jordanian forces have been mounting air strikes on Syria as part of a US-led coalition against the Islamic State. While Jordan’s population has been divided in its opinion on their country’s involvement, they are coming together in seeking revenge for the execution of the pilot. The people in the pilot’s hometown of Karak are especially adamant in their quest for revenge, organizing demonstrations in the town. The pilot’s relatives gathered in Karak for a different reason. They urged the people to be calm and allow the government to make decisions for a response.
King Abdullah was on a scheduled trip to Washington when the execution video was released. He met with President Obama on Tuesday night before returning home earlier than he had originally planned. Obama pledged his support to an investigation on the situation. He has devoted resources to finding out when the video was recorded and to locating other prisoners of ISIS. The United States also announced that it will increase aid to Jordan to help pay for the ongoing conflict.
King Abdullah, in a statement made on Jordanian TV from Washington, called on his nation to unite to fight the hardships they are facing. President Obama added that if the video of the pilot’s execution is proven to be authentic, it could go a long way in motivating the coalition to decisive action against ISIS. Jordan seekng revenge after the execution of the pilot could help to raise support for the fight against ISIS.
By Kirstin Pinto