The repertoire of new horrors keeps expanding. On February 3rd the jihadists of Islamic State (IS) released a video showing the immolation of Flight Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh, a Jordanian pilot captured after he ejected from his F-16 jet, over Syria in December. The sickening footage appears calculated to attract potential IS recruits; scare and provoke its enemies into actions that would feed IS’s propaganda; and create cleavages between the leaders and populations of countries who have joined in coalition against it.
Sure enough, within a few hours Jordan responded by hanging two convicted terrorists, including one whose freedom IS had demanded in exchange for Lieutenant Kasasbeh. But in other respects IS may have miscalculated. Jordan, which along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) had stopped flying sorties against IS after the pilot’s capture, vowed a “severe” response. The Jordanian people, many of whom had just days earlier been protesting the monarch’s decision to join the coalition against IS, now seem united in outrage and demands for revenge. Even jihadist groups have expressed outrage at the killing.
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