Profile of a patriotic pilot: Moaz al-Kasasbeh

The hashtag #WeAreAllMuath, using an alternative spelling of the pilot’s name, is trending in response to his death. (Al Arabiya)

After a tense period of negotiation, Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh was revealed to allegedly have been burned alive by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, according to a video released by the extremist group on Tuesday.

ISIS claims that al-Kasasbeh was killed on January 3 after his December 24 capture, making him the first known military member of the U.S.-led coalition to be held hostage and killed by the group.

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The 26-year-old Jordanian first lieutenant was kidnapped after his F-16 jet crashed nearby the ISIS stronghold city of Raqqa in northeastern Syria.

Born in the Jordanian city of Karak in 1988, al-Kasasbeh was one of eight children and hailed from a prominent tribe in the country.

The Kasasbeh tribe are known as staunch supporters of the Jordanian monarchy and are a backbone of the military, with many men from the family filling the ranks of the Jordanian army.

Moaz’s father, Safi al-Kasasbeh, is a retired education professor while Moaz’s uncle is a major-general in the military.

Moaz graduated from the King Hussein Air College in 2009 and soon joined the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) before qualifying as an operational pilot in 2012.

He then joined the No. 1 Squadron at the Muwaffaq Salti Air Base, UK newspaper The Telegraph reported.

Moaz, who was married in July of last year, found himself flying sorties once the coalition began its bombing campaign against ISIS in Iraqi and Syrian territories.

After his son’s capture, Moaz’s father told NPR that he had not agreed with his son playing a role in the aerial campaign.

“I wasn’t OK with it at all. And all Jordanians strongly condemn our participation in the coalition,” he said. “Our army is for defending Jordan. It’s not supposed to spread throughout the world like American forces.”

Crash and capture

Kasasbeh’s F-16 plane plane crashed near Raqqa in December in what ISIS attributed to a heat-seeking missile and what Jordan and the U.S. attributed to “engine failure.”

ISIS released photos of the pilot being pulled from water by gunmen on social media.

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His father appealed to ISIS, saying: “I direct a message to our generous brothers of the Islamic State in Syria: to host my son, the pilot Moaz, with generous hospitality. I ask God that their hearts are gathered together with love, and that he is returned to his family, wife and mother.”

Moaz’s brother, Jawwad al-Kasaesbeh, also sent a message to the extremists: “My brother is a pious man who prays and fasts and he always flies with his Quran with him,” he told a Jordanian radio station.

Aftermath

On December 30, ISIS published what it says is an interview with the Jordanian pilot in its Dabiq magazine.

The purported interview published by the ISIS online English-language magazine Dabiq on Monday is accompanied by photographs of the first lieutenant.

In it, he is quoted as discussing how the air strikes in Syria are coordinated between the countries of the U.S.-led coalition.

He says his role was to destroy anti-aircraft weapons on the ground and to provide cover for the strike aircraft.

The interviewer also asked al- Kasaesbeh if he knows what is to happen to him. “Yes … they will kill me…” he responded.

After weeks of silence, ISIS release a video demanding the release of Iraqi al-Qaeda member Sajida al-Rishawi from the Jordanian prison system in return for the sparing of al-Kasaesbeh's life and the release of Kenji Goto, a Japanese journalist also held with the group.

Jordan responded by asking for proof of life as Goto, 47, was executed.

It then became clear that ISIS’ demands were baseless as al-Kasaesbeh was allegedly killed on January 3, Jordanian state television reported.

Tuesday saw ISIS publish of a sickening video in which al-Kasaesbeh appears in a cage wearing an orange jumpsuit before he is set on fire.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:46 - GMT 06:46
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