Jordan executes ISIS jihadists: Female suicide bomber among two put to death in dawn hangings in retaliation for terrorists releasing video of pilot being torched to death in cage
- Jordan had vowed to execute six of its ISIS-linked prisoners at dawn today
- Government officials reveal that two of them have now been hanged
- Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouli were both executed this morning
- Comes after ‘Healing the Believers’ Chests’ video showed murder of pilot
- Moaz al-Kasasbeh was filmed being burnt alive while locked in a cage
- He was captured in December after his jet crashed over ISIS-held territory
- Jordan has confirmed pilot was brutally murdered by ISIS on January 3
- Barack Obama condemned the killing, branding it ‘vicious and barbaric’
- King Abdullah II called it ‘cowardly act of terror’ before meeting Obama
- David Cameron said ‘sickening murder’ would ‘strengthen our resolve’
Jordan has executed two ISIS-linked prisoners, including a would-be female suicide bomber, it has been revealed this morning.
The executions, at about 4am local time today, came just hours after Islamic State militants released a sickening video showing a captured Jordanian fighter pilot being burned alive in a cage. Jordan had vowed a swift and lethal response and government officials this morning revealed that two prisoners, Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouli, have already been hanged. Al-Rishawi had been on death row for her role in a triple hotel bombing in the Jordanian capital Amman in 2005 that killed dozens. The executions took place after gruesome footage emerged showing Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh being torched to death by his captors.
The chilling footage, entitled ‘Healing the Believers’ Chests’, shows the captured airman wearing an orange jumpsuit and seemingly doused in fuel as a trail of petrol leading up to the iron bars of the cage is seen being set alight. Flames are seen quickly spreading across the dirt to the cage, where they completely engulf the helpless pilot in images that are far too distressing to publish. Extremists pour debris, including broken masonry, over the cage, which is then flattened by a bulldozer. The release of the expertly-edited video – which represents a new level of barbarity from a group notorious for its savagery – prompted Jordan to announce it would execute all six prisoners convicted of association with ISIS at dawn today, which is usually at 6.40am (4.40am GMT). Within an hour of the 22-minute-long video’s publication, Jordan had reportedly moved ISIS-linked prisoners to a jail in the south of the country which is usually used for state executions. This morning, government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani announced that two of those prisoners had been executed. Al-Rishawi was hanged at dawn alongside Ziad al-Karbouli, an Iraqi al Qaeda operative, who was convicted in 2008 for killing a Jordanian. The executions took place at Swaqa prison about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of the Jordanian capital of Amman. At sunrise, two ambulances carrying the bodies drove away from the prison with security escorts.
A security source familiar with the case said: “They were both calm and showed no emotions and just prayed.’ It came after Momani vowed that Jordan’s response to the pilot’s killing would be ‘earth-shattering’. Over the past week, Jordan had offered to trade al-Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber, for the pilot, but froze any swap after saying it had received no proof he was still alive.
Last night it was reported that Jordanian officials had told the 26 year-old pilot’s devastated family that they believed the footage to be genuine and that the man branded a ‘hero’ in his homeland was dead. The video was the first time the pilot had been seen since he was captured in December by triumphant ISIS fighters when his F-16 jet crashed near the group’s Syrian headquarters of Raqqa during a US-Coalition led airstrike.
‘Not in vain’
Mamdouh al-Ameri, spokesman for the Jordanian armed forces, confirmed the pilot’s death and then vowed revenge, hours after the video was released. In a televised address at the time, he said: ‘While the military forces mourn the martyr, they emphasise his blood will not be shed in vain. The revenge will be as big as the calamity that has hit Jordan.’ King Abdullah II, speaking during his U.S visit in Washington, also made a statement on Jordanian TV, saying he had received news of the ‘martyrdom with sadness and deep sorrow’. Calling the murder a ‘cowardly act of terror’, he also pleaded for his countrymen to stand ‘side-by-side’, vowing that Kasasbeh’s death ‘would only make us stronger’.
WHY JORDAN SENTENCED SAJIDA AL-RISHAWI TO DEATH
Al-Rishawi, who was from the city of Ramadi in Iraq’s militant stronghold of Anbar province, had close family ties to the Iraqi branch of al-Qaeda. Three of her brothers were killed during U.S. military operations in Anbar, perhaps providing her with a motive to engage in extremist activities, Associated Press reports. One of them was a lieutenant of al-Zarqawi.
On November 9, 2005, al-Rishawi and her newlywed husband, Ali al-Shamari, entered the ground-floor ballroom of the luxury Raddison SAS hotel in Amman, which was hosting hundreds gathered for a wedding reception. Al-Shamari set off his explosive belt, ripping through a wedding party with 300 guests in the ballroom. Al-Rishawi fled. The bombing was one of three-near-simultaneous attacks on Amman hotels on that day and killed 60 people.
Al-Zarqawi later claimed responsibility for the attack and mentioned a woman being involved. Jordanian officials arrested her four days later at a safe house, one of two apartments the suicide team rented in a residential neighborhood. Several days later, al-Rishawi appeared on Jordanian state television, opening a body-length overcoat to reveal two crude explosive belts, one with RDX and the other with ball-bearings. ‘My husband detonated (his bomb) and I tried to explode (mine) but it wouldn’t,’ al-Rishawi said during the three-minute television segment. ‘People fled running and I left running with them.’ Later at the trial, al-Rishawi pleaded not guilty and said through her lawyer that she never tried to detonate her bomb and was forced to take part in the attack. But an explosives expert testified that the trigger mechanism on al-Rishawi’s belt had jammed.
Al-Rishawi, who was in her 40s, was sentenced to death by hanging and an appeals court later ratified her sentence, describing her as ‘guilty beyond doubt of possessing explosives and having had the intention and the will to carry out terrorist attacks whose outcome is destruction and death.’Last night, King Abdullah arrived at the White House for a hastily-arranged meeting with U.S President Barack Obama, following the news of the barbaric murder.
President Obama had said earlier that if the video turns out to be authentic, it would be more evidence of the group’s ‘viciousness and barbarity.’ He added that the U.S. would ‘redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of our global coalition to make sure they are degraded and ultimately defeated,’ adding that the footage serves to indicate that ‘whatever ideology they are operating out of is bankrupt.’ Prime Minister David Cameron also condemned the ‘sickening murder’, but said it would only ‘strengthen our resolve’.
He said: ‘I pay tribute to the dedication and bravery of Lieutenant Moaz al-Kassasbeh, who paid with his life while protecting his country and us all. My thoughts and prayers are with his family tonight at this tragic time. ‘These terrorists’ brutal behavior will only strengthen our resolve… We will not stop until these evil extremists and their poisonous ideology are defeated.’
Led to his death
The footage showing Kasasbeh’s gruesome murder appears to be professionally shot and edited in the style of the horrific beheading videos featuring the terror group’s executioner in chief, Jihadi John. The video, which is ISIS’ most sickening yet, begins with a lengthy montage showing Jordan’s King Abdullah II declaring his support for the anti-ISIS coalition in the style of a TV news report. It then cuts to beaten and bruised-looking Kasasbeh sitting in a darkened room wearing a Guantanamo-style orange overall and giving details of his training as a pilot, the anti-ISIS airstrikes he took part in, and details of crash in which his F-16 jet came down in jihadi-held territory. At several points the camera zooms in close to his face, on which there is a look of resignation similar to that of other hostages murdered on propaganda videos.
Unusually, the footage also features close up shots of the masked militants, one of whom later kneels down to set light to the trail of petrol that would eventually burn al-Kasasbeh alive. Before cutting to the sickening murder, the video – released by ISIS’ Al-Furqan media centre – continues with TV-style news reports showing the dead and dying child victims of coalition airstikes.
Scars of beatings
The video then cuts to Kasasbeh standing in the centre of a rubble-strewn courtyard surrounded by heavily-armed militants wearing yellow face masks and military fatigues. The pilot’s face bears the scars of beatings. It looks swollen, heavily bruised and bloody in places. There is no sound other than that of crows cawing for more than a minute as the HD camera films close-up high definition shots of the soon-to-be victim and his killers. Kasasbeh is then seen standing in a cage as a militant – identified at the end of the video by the name Emir Ahmed – uses a large stick to light the trail of petrol leading up to his feet.
Engulfed by flames
The enormous flames quickly engulf the pilot, who is seen battling them for more than than a minute before falling to his knees and putting up no further resistance. He remains alive for at least another 30 seconds, however, before falling backwards on to the floor of the cage. Fighters then pour debris, including broken masonry, over the cage which a bulldozer flattens, with the body still inside.
Twisted metal, a mechanical digger and two single-storey buildings are shown in the background of what is believed to be a district of Raqqa.
Several cameras appear to have been used to film the pilot’s last minutes from a variety of angles. The has been expertly cut together by the group’s propaganda wing – said to include several Britons because of their social media skills. Images of the killing were circulated by IS supporters on a Twitter account known for the group’s propaganda although the video was taken down from YouTube.
Even by the sick standards of IS whose fighters have tortured, beheaded, executed, crucified and stoned its victims – another recently released video showed a man blindfolded and thrown from the seven floor of a tower block for ‘being gay’ – the latest killing plunges new depths.
The video comes just days after ISIS’ British executioner in chief, Jihadi John, savagely murdered Japanese journalist Kenji Goto in a shocking filmed beheading after days of intensive negotiations through intermediaries to save him. His fate had been linked to that of al-Kassasbeh after he was shown holding a picture of the Jordanian – the only Coalition pilot to have been captured.
On Monday, Jordanian government spokesman Momeni said: ‘All state organisations have been mobilised to secure the proof of life that we require so that he can be freed and returned to his home. ‘We are still ready to hand over the convict Sajida al-Rishawi in return for the return of our son and our hero.’
He condemned the jihadists’ murder of Japanese journalist 47-yer-old Goto after days of intensive efforts through intermediaries to save him, adding: ‘We spared no effort, in coordination with the Japanese government, to save his life.’ The release of the horrific footage appears to confirm rumours heard by anti-ISIS activists in the terror group’s stronghold Raqqa in early January that the pilot had already been killed by burning.
ATROCITY AFTER ATROCITY: HOW THEY’RE RAMPING UP HORROR
The latest murder by Islamic State terrorists represents a new level of barbarity from a group notorious for its savagery. As with previous beheading videos, footage of Moaz al-Kasasbeh’s murder is characterised by its slick production values and graphics. But unlike the others, it contains an added cinematic dimension clearly designed to achieve heightened impact – as if the horror of burning alive wasn’t enough. IS blames the fighter pilot for burning houses and killing babies with airstrikes before he was captured in December. The manner of his death is a symbolic show of strength to strike terror into ‘non-believers’ and encourage doubters within their ranks. And while the beheading videos featuring British executioner Jihadi John were often static – showing the terrorist standing behind his victims – this clip combines aerial shots, panoramic views and changing camera angles that would have taken far longer to edit.
Reports from Jordan suggest al-Kasasbeh may have died as long ago as January 3, suggesting the video has been a month in the making. The new clip also contains more of the landscape than has previously been shown, which intelligence experts will analyse for clues as to the jihadists’ whereabouts. It is the latest in a propaganda war in which the terror group seem intent on finding new ways to provoke horror and disgust. As well as posting footage of executions on social media, they have also used captured British photojournalist John Cantlie – who is still believed to be alive – to present videos attacking the West.
HOW ISIS PR MACHINE PREPARED FOR BACKLASH OVER BURNING
Just ten minutes after the deeply disturbing video of Moaz al-Kasasbeh’s execution was released, a checklist of justifications for the barbaric act was published on a jihadi forum. The post, published on the pro-ISIS Al-Platform Forum, was written as a guidance to supporters who might be questioned over the merits of the act under Islamic principles. In the post, entitled ‘Moaz Was Burnt Alive, Below Is the Islamic Justification for Such an Act’, it gives a list of points, before saying: ‘This is what you should say if confronted about these actions.’ It says that people were ‘going to ask themselves whether or not this is approved by religion’, vocativ reports. It then adds: ‘Most scholars think nowadays it is fine to burn the victim.’ The post does not provide any religious basis for the execution. Other forum members later joined in with their own religious justifications.
Jordanian officials agreed 44 year-old Sajida al-Rishawi, sentenced to death for her part in an Al Qaeda bombing plot that killed 60 people at three hotels in Amman in 2005, would be released but only if the jihadists provided proof that al-Kassasbeh was still alive. Jordan had been conducting indirect, behind-the-scenes negotiations through tribal leaders in neighbouring Iraq. When no evidence was provided, it raised suspicions that the pilot was already dead and that ISIS was exploiting his case for propaganda, seeking to split the Coalition and turn Jordanians against its controversial role in airstrikes over Syria.
Officials said last night that it was unclear when the video – released yesterday – was made, although there were reports that the killing took place a month ago, on January 3. US, British and Israeli video specialists were studying the footage for clues as to where and when it had been filmed. As the news emerged, a large group, including the pilot’s relatives, gathered at a tribal meeting place in Amman, where they have waited for weeks for words on his fate. Members of al- Kasasbeh family had been gathering every day at a community centre not far from the royal palace.
The pilot’s father, Safi al-Kaseasbeh, had said he would blame Jordan’s government if it failed to broker his son’s freedom. Among the prayers being said for Kasasbeh, angry shouts against King Abdullah erupted.
Others reportedly shouted: ‘Moaz, martyr, your blood will not be in vain’ and ‘No Tahawi, no Zarqawi, we want to execute al-Rishawi’. Some other protesters waved signs reading: ‘We demand the execution of Islamic State detainees in Jordan’, while also used the gathering to call out against Jordan’s participation in the coalition. As some family members wept, an uncle shouted in Arabic: ‘I received a phone call from the chief of staff saying God bless his soul.’ The pilot’s father, Safi, was surrounded by family members.
Meanwhile, in the pilot’s hometown of Karak in southern Jordan, people demanded revenge.
‘I want to see Sajida’s body burnt and all the other terrorists in Jordanian prisons … Only then will my thirst for revenge be satisfied,’ said Abdullah al-Majali, a government employee among dozens of demonstrators in the centre of Karak. Yesterday afternoon, the White House said the U.S. intelligence community was working to authenticate the video, adding that it condemned the militant group. ‘The United States strongly condemns ISIL’s actions and we call for the immediate release of all those held captive by ISIL,’ White House spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement, using an alternative acronym for ISIS.
‘We stand in solidarity with the Government of Jordan and the Jordanian people,’ she said.
Source: Daily Mail