Additional Updates at bottom of post
Update to the “Final” Update:
The Jordanian government denied on Thursday that King Abdullah II would personally take part in airstrikes against Daesh [ISIS] militant group.
“Information disseminated over news and social media outlets about the king’s participation in airstrikes against [Daesh] is false,” government spokesman Mohamed al-Momni has said.
The statements come after reports by some local news outlets – which have spread through social media – that King Abdullah, a trained pilot, would personally take part in anti-Daesh airstrikes on Thursday following the execution of abducted Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh by the militant group in Syria.
In what may be a royal act of poetic justice, there are reports that Jordan’s King Abdullah, who has trained as a pilot and who has vowed “merciless retribution” against the thugs who burned alive a Jordanian pilot, may fly a bomber himself to personally retaliate against ISIL.
A Washington Post piece today attempts to find logic, reason, “significance,” symbolism and purpose in the latest barbarity by ISIL savages: The beastly immolation of the Jordanian pilot.
It discusses the macabre preparations, “choreography” and “high-tech graphics” that went into the making of this brutal video: “There was a defined arc. And a clear message.”
It goes into the “caliphs” of “retributive punishment,” the “idea of ‘legal retribution’” — the “eye-for-an-eye” explanations.
It seems to me that we give these savages too much credit.
I find these explanations and justifications flawed and give more credence to Philip Kennicott’s:
This isn’t about mankind’s macabre ability to invent new forms of murder; it’s about reanimating our oldest, and collectively shared, habits of barbarism…The Islamic State is not innovative in its depredations. Its thugs simply reach into the museum of human-made misery and pull out something at once horribly familiar, and terribly alien.
TIME reports that Jordan will be hanging several jihadist prisoners in response to the killing of captured Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh. One of the jihadists to be executed is reportedly Sajida al-Rishawi, the female prisoner ISIL had demanded to be released in exchange for the pilot.
King Abdullah II, who was visiting Washington, is cutting his visit short and returning to Jordan.
Images published online showed crowds of people spilling into the streets of Amman and other cities, rallying in memory of the slain pilot and chanting for Rishawi’s execution. “Long live King Abdullah II,” shouted demonstrators at one rally in Amman, according to Twitter user Mark Rafferty. In an attempt to counteract the propaganda effect of the graphic execution video, numerous Jordanians also circulated smiling portraits of Kasasbeh
A spokesman for the Jordanian armed forces has confirmed the death of a pilot captured by the Islamic State extremist group and vowed “punishment and revenge.”:
“The military forces announce that the hero pilot, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, has fallen as a martyr, and ask God to accept him with the martyrs,” Mamdouh al-Ameri said in a statement read on Jordanian TV.
“While the military forces mourn the martyr, they emphasize his blood will not be shed in vain. Our punishment and revenge will be as huge as the loss of the Jordanians.”
Jordan confirms pilot held by ISIL group killed, vows ‘punishment and revenge’
The New York Times reports that ISIL has released a video “purporting to show the execution of a captive Jordanian pilot by burning him alive.”
The lengthy video shows clips of Jordan’s involvement in the United States-led airstrikes against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL. At the end of the video, the pilot, First Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, stands inside of a cage and is burned alive with a torch.
The Islamic State’s previous video executions of captives were all beheadings. The latest video, which was first reported by the SITE Intelligence Group, an organization that monitors jihadist activity on the Internet, was the group’s first known execution by fire. There was no indication in the video of when it was made.
Read more here.
“Brutality”? If and when confirmed, pure barbarity and monstrosity are more accurate terms.
President Barack Obama responds:
graphic via shutterstock.com
In a statement issued today, the chief of Tampa, Florida-based U.S. Central Command condemned Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh’s murder at the hands of Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists.
“U.S. Central Command strongly condemns ISIL’s savage murder of Jordanian pilot, Moath al-Kasasbeh. This vicious act is yet another example of ISIL or ‘Daesh’s’ brutality and warped ideology,” Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III said in his statement.
“First and foremost,” Austin added, “our thoughts and prayers are with his family.” Al-Kasasbeh, he said, served his country courageously and honorably as an important member of the counter-ISIL coalition.
Austin said he’d spoken with General Mashal al-Zaben, chief of staff of the Jordanian Armed Forces, “and assured him that we stand with our Jordanian partners and together we will fight this barbaric enemy until it is defeated.”
Statement by Secretary of State John Kerry:
Jordanian First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh represented everything that ISIL is not: he was brave, compassionate, and principled.
That a young patriot — a devout Muslim, one of eight children, just months into married life, with the hopes of his own family in front of him — would be ISIL’s latest victim reminds us all of the evil of this enemy.
The United States extends its deepest condolences to Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh’s family, King Abdullah II, the Jordanian Armed Forces, and the people of Jordan. Jordanians have demonstrated extraordinary compassion by opening their borders to the flow of refugees precipitated by the violence in Syria and Iraq.
That he was murdered after his father’s plea for compassion reminds all the world that this foe has no agenda other than to kill and destroy, and places no value on life, including that of fellow Muslims.
The brave actions of Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh and other coalition pilots like him — which have been eroding ISIL’s control over territory, and halting its advance demonstrate yet again that ISIL’s claims of invincibility are unfounded.
From the first airstrikes through this very moment, Arab pilots have flown with courage and skill, along with their partners in a broad coalition. Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh believed in that mission, and his fight endures for all those who now fly in his name.
We will never allow the scourge of ISIL to spread to other countries, or the death of Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh and thousands of innocent victims to be forgotten. Our support for the Arab coalition united against this terrorist organization will not rest until ISIL can no longer threaten the region and their lies and deceptions are clear to all. Today and hereafter, particularly in this hour of grief, our support for Jordan and the Jordanian people remains strong and steadfast.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in a statement released today, extended his deepest condolences to the family of Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kassasbeh, who “was brutally murdered after being taken captive by [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] terrorists.”
Hagel said the “horrific, savage killing is yet another example of ISIL’s contempt for life itself.”
The United States and its military “stand steadfast alongside our Jordanian friends and partners,” Hagel said. “Jordan remains a pillar of our global coalition to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL, and this act of despicable barbarity only strengthens our shared resolve. We send our thoughts and prayers to Lieutenant al-Kassasbeh’s comrades, loved ones, and all Jordanians as we join them in mourning this tragic loss.”
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.