King to pilot’s dad: We’re avenging his killing

Story highlights

  • Prominent cleric says Jordanian pilot’s killing “has united Muslims … against ISIS”
  • Slain pilot’s father: King pointed out Jordanian fighter jets returning from ISIS strike
  • Analyst says it’s important that Jordan’s actions go beyond vitriol, are sustained

Jordanian fighter jets returned from their mission and flew over the home of the slain 27-year-old pilot, Lt. Moath al-Kasasbeh, in the village of Ay in Karak governorate. King Abdullah II, there to offer his condolences to al-Kasasbeh’s family, pointed out the fighter jets overhead as proof that Jordan was responding with force, according to the executed pilot’s father.

The father, Safi al-Kasasbeh, told CNN that the king promised him that Jordan would avenge his son’s death and bombard ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria. On Thursday, Safi al-Kasasbeh said he’d been told by the king that 30 Jordanian fighter jets had participated in the strikes.

Video came out Tuesday showing Moath al-Kasasbeh’s execution — something that Jordanian authorities believe actually happened a month earlier.

Government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani told CNN Thursday that Jordan’s response to the killing “will be strong and will be decisive.”

“We will not let this crime of killing our pilots with the horrific way it was done pass without punishment,” al-Momani said. “These people will be punished.”

What comes next?

Analyst: Military response must be sustained to work

Thursday’s strikes were the latest that Jordan’s military has carried out against ISIS. Al-Kasasbeh ended up in ISIS captivity when his F-16 fighter jet crashed around Raqqa on December 24.

Jordan is one of a handful of Middle Eastern nations taking part in the U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS, and al-Kasasbeh’s death has ratcheted up the anti-ISIS rhetoric and actions.

Pilot’s uncle: Whatever it takes to destroy ISIS 03:28


On Wednesday, Jordan executed two prisoners — Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be suicide bomber whose release ISIS had previously demanded as part of a prisoner exchange, and Ziad Karbouli, a former top aide to the deceased leader of al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Those actions are not enough for al-Kasasbeh’s father though.

“These were criminals and there is no comparison between them and Moath. His blood is more valued than Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad Karbouli,” Safi al-Kasasbeh said. “… I demand that this criminal organization (ISIS) … be annihilated.”

Opinion: Jordan’s execution of jihadists could backfire

It’s hard to tell right away how effective Jordanian military’s mission was Thursday, or what it will do next.

Retired U.S. Army Maj. Gen. James “Spider” Marks, a CNN military analyst, said the most important thing will be not just to have one strike but a persistent effort that’s well-coordinated with the coalition military effort.

“It can’t be a revenge attack, it can’t be vitriolic,” Marks said. “… If emotions brought them in, that’s fine. But at this point, it needs to be a relentless, aggressive attack … objectively controlled so that you can achieve results on the ground. And it needs to be sustained.”

Killing on big screens?

ISIS apparently made a big show of the pilot’s brutal execution in Raqqa, with an activist network — Raqqa Is Being Slaughtered Silently — reporting that the killing was being shown, repeatedly, on large screens across the city.

One of ISIS’ propaganda production outlets posted a video online that appears to show a crowd cheering as flames around the pilot grow.

Expert: Video most gruesome, disturbing I’ve ever seen 03:59


The video features a tight shot of a boy, looking up as if in awe and saying that he would “burn the pilot” himself if he had a chance and that “all Arab tyrants should also be burned.” The boy can also be heard saying, “Obama the dog.”

Because the video is carefully orchestrated propaganda, CNN has no way to know if people in Raqqa really feel this way, if other children were present or whether the video participants’ responses were authentic or a result of intimidation.

Contrast that to the scene hundreds of miles away in Jordan, where demonstrators hit the street demanding ISIS be hit hard.

One protester held a poster that read: “They burned our hearts, so let’s burn their dens, and their prisoners in our prisons.”

Shaykh Muhammad al-Yaqoubi, a prominent Sunni Muslim cleric in Syria before going into exile as the civil war there raged, is among those who think ISIS’s killing of al-Kasasbeh — and in particular how they did it in a way antithetical to Islam — will backfire on the extremist group.

“ISIS wanted to instill terror and fear in the heart of its enemies,” al-Yaqoubi told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour from Morocco. “… What’s happening is the opposite.

“The martyrdom of Moath has united Muslims … against ISIS, leaving no slight room of doubt that these people do not represent Islam. They represent savagery, terrorism and extremism.” – Top Stories

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