Jordan Executes 2 Al-Qaeda Captives After IS Burns Pilot

Jordan Executes 2 Al-Qaeda Captives After IS Burns PilotJordan Executes 2 Al-Qaeda Captives After IS Burns Pilot

Jordan executed two al-Qaeda prisoners before dawn Wednesday, just hours after an online video purported to show Islamic State militants burning a captured Jordanian pilot to death in a cage.

The gruesome death of 26-year-old Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh, captured while participating in airstrikes by a US-led coalition targeting the militants, sparked outrage and anti-IS demonstrations in Jordan, AP said in a report.

Newspaper headlines warned Jordan “will take revenge” for his slaying as King Abdullah II, a Western ally, rushed back to his kingdom from Washington. In Raqaa, the IS group’s de facto capital, the militants played al-Kaseasbeh’s slaying on big-screen televisions, Syrian activists there said.

In its first response, Jordan executed Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouly, two Iraqis linked to al-Qaeda, government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said. Another official said they were executed by hanging.

The executions took place at Swaqa prison about 80 kilometers south of the Jordan’s capital, Amman. Authorities said they’d be buried later in Jordan.

Al-Rishawi had been sentenced to death after her 2005 role in a triple hotel bombing that killed 60 people in Amman orchestrated by al-Qaeda in Iraq, the predecessor of the IS. Al-Karbouly was also sent to death row in 2008 for plotting terror attacks on Jordanians in Iraq.

The late Jordanian pilot was from a tribal area in southern Jordan’s Karak district. Members of the pilot’s family have repeatedly accused the government of botching efforts to win his release and have also criticized Jordan’s participation in the anti-IS alliance.

  Failed Trade

IS purportedly had demanded Jordan release al-Rishawi in exchange for the pilot. Over the past week, Jordan had offered to trade her, but froze any swap after failing to receive any proof that the pilot was still alive. Jordanian state television said the pilot was killed as long ago as January 3, suggesting officials there knew any attempt to trade would be in vain.

Al-Kaseasbeh had fallen into the hands of the militants when his F-16 crashed near Raqqa, Syria. He was the first airman participating in the bombing raids against militant positions in Syria and Iraq to be captured.

In the 20-minute video purportedly showing his killing, he displayed signs of having been beaten, including a black eye. Toward the end of the clip, he is shown wearing an orange jumpsuit. He stands in an outdoor cage as a masked militant ignites a line of fuel leading to it.

Jordan’s military quickly confirmed al-Kaseasbeh had been killed. “Our punishment and revenge will be as huge as the loss of the Jordanians,” army spokesman Mamdouh al-Ameri said.

Jordan faces increasing threats from the militants. Jordan borders areas of the IS self-declared caliphate. There also have been signs of greater support for the group’s militant ideas among Jordan’s young and poor.

In Washington, King Abdullah II and US President Barack Obama vowed in a hastily arranged White House meeting Tuesday not to let up in the fight against the IS.

In a speech later aired on Jordanian state television, he urged his countrymen to unite. “It’s the duty of all of us to stand united and show the real values of Jordanians in the face of these hardships,” Abdullah said.

  UAE Pulls Out

The United Arab Emirates pulled out of the air campaign fighting IS militants after the capture of a Jordanian pilot who has since been killed by the extremists, the Times said in a report.

UAE want the US to improve its search-and-rescue efforts, including the use of V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft, in northern Iraq, closer to the battleground. As it stands, the US-led mission is based in Kuwait, according the report.

It said UAE pilots will not rejoin the fight until the Ospreys -- which take off and land like helicopters but fly like planes -- are deployed in northern Iraq.

UAE officials also questioned if American military rescue teams would have been able to reach the pilot even if there had been more time for a rescue effort.