Jordanian King Abdullah II met with President Barack Obama this week in Washington. Photo by Mike Theiler/ UPI | License Photo
AMMAN, Jordan, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The barbaric killing of a Jordanian pilot by the Islamic State has been universally condemned, but appropriate responses remain undetermined.
The Arab world was quick to express outrage over the death of Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the pilot whose F-16 fighter plane crashed in IS-held territory in Syria. A 22-minute video of his execution was released Wednesday, showing al-Kasedeh burned to death while standing in an oil-soaked cage.
In retaliation, Jordan's King Abdullah II ordered the execution of two Iraqi terrorists convicted held in Jordanian jails, after he returned from Washington to a hero's welcome. The pro-Western monarch promised, "The response of Jordan and the army, after what happened to our dear son, will be severe."
Although opinion has been mixed on whether Jordan should be involved in the coalition, al-Kasabeh's capture and gruesome death has had a galvanizing effect on the Jordanian population.
"This evil can and should be defeated," government spokesman Mohamed al-Momani said, noting Jordan was "more determined than ever" to defeat IS. The King must now persuade his people that IS ideology has no place in modern Islam.
The coalition fighting IS, led by the United States, lost a partner in the United Arab Emirates, whose fighter planes joined the aerial assault soon after the formation of the alliance. A crucial ally and one of several Muslim Arab nations involved in defeating IS from the air – Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are the others -- it suspended its involvement after al-Kasasbeh was taken, citing fears for its own pilots' safety in the event of a crash or shoot-down, The New York Times reported Wednesday. It added that the U.A.E. requested the United States improve the coalition's search-and-rescue capabilities before it would return.
The video, which as a propaganda device was designed to intimidate, also underscored the coalition's inability to save hostages from IS on IS territory. As such, it ridiculed the power of the Washington-led alliance.
It also was the latest in atrocities committed by IS, which have included stonings, crucifixions and beheadings in the name of its singular brand of Islam. Release of the video of al-Kasasbeh's death, which may have been made in early January, comes after IS defeats, earlier this week, in Kobani, Syria, and in Diyala province, Iraq, and shifted attention away from those military setbacks.
"The Islamic State has gained more from this than it lost," said Hisham al-Hashimi, an adviser to the Iraqi government.
IS released additional video footage late Wednesday, of a crowd in Raqqa, Syria, the IS defacto capital, watching the immolation of al-Kasabeh on large outdoor screens. The five-minute production clearly showed the crowd, which included children, cheering.
The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist activities, said the video was titled "Muslims' Joy at Burning of Jordanian Pilot," and said in a report, "The IS held a viewing in Raqqah of the video of burning to death Kasasibah, and recorded the 'joy' of men and a boy." The boy, no more than 8 years old, was interviewed and said, "If he was here, I'd burn him by my hand. I wish to capture pilots and burn them."