Egyptian president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi strongly condemned the killing of Jordanian pilot Muath Al-Kasasbeh, at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) in Raqqa, Syria on Tuesday.
He said all countries should unite against this “terror” group, and their “barbaric, cowardly acts that violate all religious concepts”.
A high definition video went viral on social media channels on Tuesday, allegedly belonging to ISIS in what they described “the healing of spirits” operation. The video explicitly showed Jordanian pilot Al-Kasasbeh while being set on fire inside a huge black cage, surrounded by a group of masked men in military garb.
Al-Kasasbeh was flying over the city of Raqqah, north-eastern Syria in December 2014, when ISIS troops took down his plane, holding him captive until his alleged murder last month. A recorded audio is heard at the beginning of the video, explaining the capture and killing of Al-Kasasbeh, saying it was in response to Jordan’s entry in the international coalition against ISIS.
Unlike all ISIS-affiliated groups’ execution operations, which previously showed beheadings for their hostages, this video was the first of its kind to show an execution by setting fire.
As soon as the video was circulated, several marches took to the streets in Al-Karak City, the birth town of Al-Kasasbeh, witnesses told Daily News Egypt, while other cities, including Amman, were relatively quiet.
However, hundreds of citizens attended the prayer for al-Kasasbeh in Amman’s Al-Husseiny Mosque Wednesday morning, along with Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Nosour. The prayer was followed by a solidarity march for the citizens, holding the dead pilot’s poster.
The incident has raised widespread debate on social media regarding whether or not Jordan should expand its efforts in fighting ISIS or step out of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition, using #notourwar.
Muhammed Al-Khamaiseh,a Jordanian citizen, told Daily News Egypt: “ISIS is an American source of dreadful fear in the region, we do not know where this war will lead us. Our enemy is clear, on the western bank of Jordan’s river, whether we fight it or stay in our barracks, but Jordanians will not sacrifice their sons in reward of some business deals.”
Meanwhile, other citizens said the fight against ISIS should stepped up, not just through weapons, but also on the psychological level. The video left many shocked, not just because of its graphic content, but also due to the very advanced technical features used in shooting and editing it.
“Ever since Al-Kasabeh was captured we have been exerting enormous efforts to release him from the evil powers,” the Jordanian armed forces said in a statement. Several negotiations were ongoing on between the Jordanian government and ISIS to exchange Al-Kasasbeh with an Iraqi convict in Jordan, Sajda Al-Rishawi.
Al-Rishawi, a member of ISIS, received a suspended death sentence after taking part in bomb attacks across Jordanian hotels in 2005. The sentence was executed this morning in response to the video allegedly showing the killing of Al-Kasasbeh.
Al-Kasabeh, 26, joined the Jordanian air forces in 2006 and was promoted to first lieutenant position in 2014. The video included a sound-byte of his voice while he was talking about the countries taking part in the international armed coalition against ISIS, the nature of its operations, and the jets they used.
In September 2014, the US formed a coalition with several countries in the Arab world in an attempt to counter the ISIS threat, in particular following the Yazidis displacement and abductions in northern Iraq.
Despite ISIS’ appearance in different Arab countries, only a few of them decided to join the armed coalition led by the US. Egypt refrained from the armed fight, choosing instead to support the coalition strategically, according to Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry’s statements.
He said that it would not be logical for Egypt to mobilise resources to defeat ISIS while these resources are currently being used in the country in its own counter-insurgency. Shoukry asserted that any intervention should consider the international principles of the “nation state” and “state sovereignty”.
Located between the borders of the Gaza Strip, Israel and Egypt’s Rafah, the Sinai Peninsula has witnessed continuous exchange of fire between anonymous militant troops and Egyptian armed forces, leaving hundreds dead from both parties and civilians.
Among the militant troops Ansar Beit Al-Maqdis group publicly announced in an audio recording in November their allegiance to ISIS, rebranding themselves as ‘State of Sinai’. The group called for “all Muslims” to pledge allegiance to Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed caliph of the ‘Islamic State’.
At least 30 officers and conscripts were killed in an attack at one of their brigades in Al-Arish, North Sinai on Thursday by ’State of Sinai’ militants.
“I must admit that, weirdly, a tiny selfish part in my heart somehow envies Jordanians tonight for their ability to cut through the politics and mourn a collective son,” Egyptian economic expert Mohamed El-Dahshan announced on his personal page.
“Where I come from, people are killed, nameless, by the dozen, be it at home or abroad (see Egyptian Christians executed in Libya..), judges rule to execute 540 people in 5 minutes, most people don’t even flinch,” he added.