Amman, Asharq Al-Awsat—Jordan will fight a “relentless” war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) following its killing of captured Jordanian pilot Muadh Al-Kasasbeh, King Abdullah II vowed.
His comments came just hours before reports that Jordan has increased the number of sorties its pilots are carrying out over Iraq and Syria, with some local news outlets reporting that the Jordanian monarch himself is “personally” involved in the latest military operation. It is unclear whether this means that King Abdullah II, an accomplished pilot, is himself taking part in operations or is commanding troops from the ground.
Jordan state TV reported that fighter jets had flew over the hometown of the slain pilot on Thursday after completing a mission, without giving any further information. King Abdullah II visited Kasasbeh’s family in the town of Karak on Thursday.
“We are waging this war to protect our faith, our values and human principles, and our war for their sakes will be relentless and will hit them [ISIS] on their own ground,” Jordanian state television quoted the King as saying following a high-level security meeting on Wednesday.
Jordan is part of the US-led anti-ISIS coalition that is fighting the jihadist group in Iraq and Syria, and Jordan’s monarch has pledged that Amman will not be intimidated by ISIS’s execution of Jordan’s pilot Muadh Al-Kasasbeh.
Kasasbeh was captured in late December when his F-16 crashed over northeast Iraq and executed less than a week later, although in January ISIS claimed that he was still alive and offered to release him in exchange for Sajida Al-Rishawi, who was jailed for her role in a suicide bombing that killed over 60 people in Amman in November 2009.
Amman subsequently executed Rishawi and a second Al-Qaeda-affiliated prisoner, Ziyad Karboli, following the news of Kasasbeh’s execution.
King Abdullah II had earlier cut-short a visit to the US to return to Amman following the announcement of Kasasbeh’s death. During a private meeting with members of the US Congressional Armed Services Committee, the Jordanian monarch reportedly expressed deep anger towards ISIS over Kasasbeh’s death.
The Jordanian monarch reportedly quoted Hollywood movie Unforgiven, a Western directed and starring Clint Eastwood, to express his fury over the pilot’s death and his desire to exact retribution, one US congressman who attended the meeting said.
“He [King Abdullah II] mentioned Unforgiven and he mentioned Clint Eastwood, and he actually quoted a part of the movie,” Republican Congressman Duncan Hunter Jr. told Fox News.
“He said there is going to be retribution like ISIS hasn’t seen,” he added.
Jordan’s Speaker of Parliament Atef Tarawneh also condemned the execution in comments to Asharq Al-Awsat. He said: “Following the shock of the death of hero pilot Muadh Al-Kasabeh, the people of Jordan have united in one trench to declare war on terrorism and war on ISIS.”
He described the execution of Kasasbeh, who was burnt alive by ISIS, as “barbaric,” adding that the cruel and vicious nature in which the Jordanian pilot was killed has only served to strengthen the people of Jordan’s resolve in the fight against terrorism.
“A ground war is not necessary, what is required is to continue to work with the international coalition and continue aerial bombardments of ISIS sites,” he said.
“We must stand with the international coalition states and share intelligence in order to hit ISIS sites and drain its resources,” he added.