Jordan’s King Abdullah calls for ‘relentless’ war against Islamic State

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    The gruesome killing of a Jordanian military pilot echoed across the Middle East today. A video of Islamic State captors burning him alive triggered demands to strike back and vows to redouble the fight against the militants.

    For many in Jordan, this was a day of outrage mingled with mourning. People prayed in the home village of the murdered pilot, 26-year-old Muath al-Kaseasbeh. And soldiers lined up to pay respects, as his father demanded retaliation against the killers of his son.

    SAFI AL-KASEASBEH, Father of murdered pilot (through interpreter): These are criminals, and there is no comparison between them and the blood of Muath. The country has to take its revenge, and I call for no one to remain alive from Islamic State. I call for revenge by executing prisoners.


    In Amman, protesters joined in that demand. The government did announce it had hanged two al-Qaida prisoners before dawn.

    A convoy carried away their bodies for burial. One was Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be suicide bomber who was sentenced to die for her role in a 2005 attack. The Islamic State had demanded her release in exchange for the pilot's life. The other prisoner hanged today, Ziyad Karboli, had been sentenced to death in 2008.

    The government's information minister promised other actions to come.

    MOHAMMED AL-MOMANI, Jordanian government spokesman (through interpreter): All the state's agencies, including its military, develop their different options. And, as we said yesterday, the response of Jordan will be tough, earthshaking.


    Elsewhere in the Middle East, the grisly killing of the pilot drew condemnation from leaders in Palestine, Israel, and Turkey, and from leading Muslim clerics, including the grand mufti of Lebanon.

  • SHEIK ABDEL-LATIF DERIAN, Grand Mufti, Lebanon (through interpreter):

    We condemn this cowardly act. And whoever committed this cowardly act is far from being related to Islam or any other religion. This is brutal and totally reprehensible and no person or religion would agree with such an act.


    King Abdullah returned to Amman today, vowing a relentless war against Islamic State fighters. He cut short a visit to Washington, and before the pilot's death, at least, had faced criticism over the airstrikes.

    The United Arab Emirates came under similar pressure, and there was word today it suspended its own airstrikes in December, after the Jordanian pilot was captured.

  • JEN PSAKI, State Department Spokeswoman:

    But, at the State Department, spokeswoman Jen Psaki argued the coalition remains strong. The United States is not going to buckle in the face of demands or horrific actions of ISIL, and we don't expect other countries will either.


    Meanwhile, Republicans and Democrats alike called for expediting military aid to Jordan.

    And at his Senate confirmation hearing, defense secretary-designate Ashton Carter pledged to clear up reported delays.

    ASHTON CARTER, U.S. Secretary of Defense-Designate: I definitely want to find out what they are and resolve them, because we need partners on the ground to beat ISIS. And the Jordanian people have clearly reacted the way that encourages us to support them.


    The Obama administration announced yesterday the U.S. will boost financial assistance to Jordan over the next three years, partially to modernize its military.

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