Just an hour ago Islamic State released a video showing the murder of the Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, shot down over Syria in December. Jordan has confirmed the death, saying that they believe the pilot was executed a month ago. The propaganda video shows Kasasbeh talking about his mission to bomb IS targets, before he is burned to death inside a cage.
Kasasbeh’s murder shows the utter disregard Islamic State has for not only human life, but also the governments of the other states in the Middle East. Jordan had already made clear that it would agree to a prisoner swap demanded by IS, and public opinion in Jordan was turning against involvement in the bombing of targets in Syria. Islamic State responded to this by killing the pilot in the most horrific and degrading way they could imagine. They are making very clear that they are not interested in deals, they are not interested in negotiation or understanding, they are only interested in following their twisted ideology. The fact that Jordan is a Muslim country makes no difference, to IS their rulers have given up the true faith.
The question now is how Jordan and the wider Middle East will respond. It could go two ways. As I said, the capture of the pilot turned Jordanians against their government’s involvement in the campaign against IS in Syria. His murder could intensify these calls for withdrawal from the coalition. However, it could also serve as a source for rage and determination against IS, acting as a wake-up call to the country. The world’s most brutal and extreme militant group is on their doorstep. This is Jordan’s war.
Finally, it’s frustrating and saddening to see people on the internet helping Islamic State in their aim of spreading fear. When I first saw the news on Twitter, I searched for the hashtag ISIS to try and confirm it, only to be immediately confronted by graphic photos of Kasasbeh’s murder. They’re utterly horrifying and sickening. Those who share the photos are acting like voyeurs, publishing images of another man’s agony, and only aid the jihadists. With the reach of the internet advancing every day, Twitter should take all steps necessary to stop extremists harnessing its immense potential.
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