After the appearance of a video showing the death of Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Muadh al-Kasasbeh, Jordan prepared late on Tuesday to follow through on its vow of executing ISIS-affiliated prisoners.
Jordan has reportedly identified five prisoners linked to ISIS for execution on Wednesday. They had previously been considered for a swap with the pilot, before news of his death was revealed. (RELATED: Negotiating With ISIS, US Ally Jordan At A Stalemate)
Jordanian King Abdullah ibn al-Hussein is in Washington for meetings with Secretary of State John Kerry and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but will cut his visit short in order to return to Jordan. Meanwhile, Jordanian cities’ streets filled with civilians demanding revenge for their countryman.
A statement by Jordan’s government vowed an “earth-shaking” response to Kasasbeh’s death. (RELATED: Video Emerges Of ISIS Burning Captured Pilot Alive)
The video’s appearance has raised new questions about ISIS’ motives and strategy toward Jordan, a major ally in the U.S.-led coalition against the group. Jordan has withdrawn its airplanes since Kasasbeh crashed in ISIS-held Syrian territory in late December. But the terrorist group may be baiting Jordan into a more muscular, more vulnerable military commitment, elevating their soon-dead sympathizers in Jordan as martyrs in the fight against the American-led alliance.
On the same theme, terror analysis firm the Soufan Group has issued an article, describing “overreaction” and “constant replenishment of fear” as two key weapons in ISIS’ arsenal.
Open-source intelligence suggests that Kasasbeh was killed in late December or early January, though the video was withheld until Tuesday. ISIS’ behavior in the prolonged drama surrounding Kasasbeh and two Japanese hostages, both also killed in the last two weeks, may indicate an attempt to provoke an overreaction and draw more sympathy among disenfranchised Muslims, particularly those in the West.
Sajida al-Rishawi, the female terrorist prisoner whom Jordan had been ready to exchange for Kasasbeh, was arrested after her suicide vest failed to go off in a 2005 attack on a hotel in Amman, the Jordanian capital.
ISIS also remains in custody of at least one American hostage, a 26-year-old female development worker whose name is not publicly available. President Obama said Monday that he would “deploy all assets” to locate and recover foreign hostages held by the group.
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