ISIS kill hostage - so Jordan kills 55

Written By komlim puldel on Kamis, 05 Februari 2015 | 20.01

The killing of pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh has sent shockwaves through Jordan, where many, including the pilot's father, are calling for revenge against Islamic State. Nathan Frandino reports.

Revenge ... Jordan has killed 55 Islamic State militants in retaliation for the killing of a captured Jordanian pilot. Picture: AP/Raad Adayleh Source: AP

THE Jordanian air force has carried out air strikes against Islamic State targets in Mosul, killing 55 including a top IS commander known as the 'Prince of Nineveh' Iraqi media have reported as well as the International Business Times.

The airstrikes are in retaliation for the killing of captured Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who was burned alive in a cage by the terror group.

Jordan's King Abdullah II vowed that there would be a "severe" response to IS after the video emerged, with two prisoners already executed in response.

HORRIFIC: Islamic State video shows Jordanian pilot burnt alive

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Support ... Jordanians show their support for the government's stance against terror. Picture: AP/Raad Adayleh Source: AP

In an initial response to the killing of al-Kaseasbeh, Jordan executed two Iraqi al-Qaeda prisoners, Sajida al-Rishawi and Zaid al-Karbouly, before sunrise on Wednesday.

Over the past week, Jordan had offered to trade al-Rishawi, a failed female suicide bomber, for the pilot, but insisted on proof of life it never received. Al-Momani said on Wednesday that Jordan now believes the pilot was killed in early January.

Dozens more suspected Islamic State sympathisers are in detention in Jordan, most rounded up during a crackdown in recent months.

In the northern Syrian city of Raqaa, the Islamic State group's de facto capital, the militants showed graphic footage of al-Kaseasbeh's slaying on outdoor screens, with some chanting "God is great!" according to militant video posted online.

Tragic ... Jordanians mourn the death of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh. Picture: AP/Raad Adayleh Source: AP

In the 20-minute video of the killing, the pilot displayed signs of having been beaten, including a black eye. Toward the end of the clip, he stood in the outdoor cage in an orange jumpsuit and a masked militant lit a line of fuel leading to him. The AP could not independently confirm the authenticity of the video.

Jordan called for a decisive battle against the Islamic State group, declaring "this evil can and should be defeated".

Waves of revulsion over the killing washed across the Middle East, a region long accustomed to violence. In mosques, streets and coffee shops, Muslims denounced the militants' brutality and distanced themselves from Islamic extremists.

Even a prominent preacher with close links to jihadi groups said Islamic State militants miscalculated if they hoped the images of the pilot's agony would galvanise greater opposition to a US led military coalition that has been bombing targets of the group.

Revenge ... Many Jordanians who were against their country joining the US in airstrikes against the Islamic State now support it. Picture: AFP/ STR Source: AFP

"After millions of Muslims were cursing every pilot (in the coalition), with this act, they (ISIS) have made the burned one into a symbol," Abdullah al-Muhaysni, a Saudi sheik, wrote on his Twitter account.

The issues Jordan faces in the battle against ISIS are wide ranging.

They receive hundreds of millions of dollars in foreign aid a year, but grinding social problems persist, including high unemployment among young men, a reservoir of potential ISIS recruits.

Experts estimate Islamic State and other jihadi groups have thousands of supporters in the kingdom, with an upswing last year after the militants declared a caliphate in the areas they control.

The United States and Israel are particularly concerned about any signs of turmoil. Israel views Jordan as an important land buffer and the two countries share intelligence.

Too much to bear ... Safi, the father of Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, broke down upon hearing of his sons death. Picture: AFP/ Khalil Mazraawi Source: AFP

Grieving ... Safi was surrounded by family members and security forces during a mourning ceremony at the headquarters of the family's clan in the Jordanian city of Karak. Picture: AFP/ Khalil Mazraawi Source: AFP

In Washington, congressional support built for increased US military assistance to the kingdom. Currently, the United States is providing Jordan with $1 billion annually in economic and military assistance.

Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Jordan's King Abdullah II — who met with politicians and President Barack Obama shortly after the video of the murdered pilot was released — must be given "all of the military equipment" he needs to combat the group. He said Abdullah did not ask for ground troops.

Abdullah rushed home after his Washington meetings, cutting short his US trip, to rally domestic support for an even tougher line against the militants. In September, Jordan joined the US-led military coalition that began bombing Islamic State group targets in Syria and Iraq.

Taking action ... Jordan's King Abdullah II returned early from his trip to the US and was greeted by supporters. Picture: AP/Raad Adayleh Source: AP

The decision was not popular in Jordan, with the bombing campaign widely seen as serving Western, not Jordanian interests. During weeks of uncertainty about the fate of the airman, some of his relatives and supporters chanted against Jordan's role in the coalition.

On Wednesday, Hammam Saeed, the leader of Jordan's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, visited relatives of the pilot in the southern tribal town of Karak, and called on Jordan to pull out of the anti-IS coalition, saying that "we have no relations with this war."

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani on Wednesday urged the international community to work together and deliver a decisive blow to Islamic State militants. Jordan believes that "this evil can and should be defeated," he said.

Associated Press writers Omar Akour in Amman, Hamza Hendawi in Cairo, Zeina Karam and Diaa Hadid in Beirut and Mohammed Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to the report.

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