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Isis video of Jordanian pilot's murder sparks outrage across Middle East as father calls for militants to be 'annihilated'

Political and religious leaders have called for blood after footage was released yesterday of the killing of Lt Muath al-Kasaesbeh

James Rush
Wednesday 04 February 2015 16:21 GMT
Safi al-Kassasbeh, the father of the Jordanian pilot killed by Isis militants, greets mourners who turned up to offer their condolences on 4 February , 2015
Safi al-Kassasbeh, the father of the Jordanian pilot killed by Isis militants, greets mourners who turned up to offer their condolences on 4 February , 2015 (AFP PHOTO / KHALIL MAZRAAWIKHALIL MAZRAAWI/AFP/Getty Images)

Outrage at the murder of the Jordanian pilot burned to death by Isis has spread across the Middle East, as the victim's father demanded the militants be "annihilated" in revenge for his son's death.

Political and religious leaders have called for blood after footage was released yesterday of Lt Muath al-Kasaesbeh being set on fire as he stood in a cage.

Jordan promised a swift and "earth-shaking" response in the wake of the video's release, while early on Wednesday morning local time, state television reported two prisoners, including a female prisoner sought by Isis, had been executed before dawn.

Safi al-Kasaesbeh has told Al Jazeera however that the execution of the two militants was not enough to avenge his son's death.

Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh (MUHAMMAD HAMED/Reuters)

He said: "I demand none of them amongst us be kept alive. I demand the revenge be greater than executing prisoners. I demand the Isil organisation be annihilated."

Jordan has today said it will intensify its efforts with the international coalition fighting Isis, in the wake of the pilot's killing.

"We are talking about a collaborative effort between coalition members to intensify efforts to stop extremism and terrorism to undermine, degrade and eventually finish Daesh," Mohammad al-Momani said, using an Arabic acronym for Isis, also known as Islamic State and Isil.

As an outpouring of grief and rage spread across the region in the wake of the Jordan pilot's death, the head of Sunni Islam's most respected seat of learning – Egypt's Al-Azhar – said the militants deserved the Koranic punishment of death, crucifixion or the chopping off of their arms for being enemies of God and the Prophet Mohamed.

Al-Azhar's grand sheik Ahmed al-Tayed said: "Islam prohibits the taking of an innocent life."

He said by burning the pilot to death, the militants had violated Islam's prohibition on the mutilation of bodies.

While capital punishment is used across parts of the region, burning to death as legal punishment is unheard of in contemporary Middle East, the Associated Press has reported.

Iyad Madani, the leader of the Saudi-based Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the world's largest bloc of Muslim countries, also condemned the killing.

In a statement, Madani said the death "utterly disregards the rights of prisoners Islam has decreed, as well as the human moral standards for war and treatment of prisoners".

Condemnations have also been quick from Gulf Arab nations, all close US allies, including the United Arab Emirates, whose foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan reaffirmed his nation's commitment to fighting terrorism and extremism.

"This heinous and obscene act represents a brutal escalation by the terrorist group, whose evil objectives have become apparent," he said.

Relatives of Jordanian pilot Moazal al-Kasaesbeh hold his poster as they take part in a rally in his support at the family's headquarters in the city of Karak, last week (Reuters)

Bahrain meanwhile described the killing as "despicable", while Kuwait's emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, called it "criminal" and "vicious".

Qatar condemned the "criminal act contravening the tolerant principles of the Islamic faith, human values and international laws and norms."

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the killing an act of "savagery" that had no place in Islam, while Iran described the killing as an “inhuman” act that violated the codes of Islam.

Jordanian politician Mohammed al-Rousan wept during an interview with Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV as he described watching footage of the killing, saying even those attuned to violence could not bear to see a man burned alive.

Safi al-Kasaesbeh, the father of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kassasbeh talks to reporters in Amman, Jordan, on 1 February 2015 (EPA)

The European Union meanwhile has criticised Jordan for its execution of the the two Iraqi jihadists, while also showing its solidarity with the Arab nation over the pilot's killing.

In a statement released on Wednesday, foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said: "While all efforts must be made to counter terrorism and hold the perpetrators accountable, our reaction to the threat posed by (Islamic State) needs to be consistent with our common values on justice and the rights of prisoners."

She said: "Our action has to be guided by the respect of international human rights law and humanitarian law. The European position against death penalty remains unchanged and we believe capital punishment does not serve any deterrent purpose."

Ms Mogherini also praised Jordan's role in the "front line in the battle" against Isis and taking in refugees from Syria and Iraq.

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters

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