The burning alive of a Jordanian pilot by Islamic State militants is reverberating around the Middle East, a region that’s no stranger to public hangings and beheadings.
Condemnation of the murder of Moath al-Kasassbeh came from regional foes Saudi Arabia and Iran. Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s leading religious institution, called for the “killing or crucifixion” of Islamic State terrorists. Officials rejected the immolation of a foreign hostage by the group as “barbaric” and “satanic,” and warned similar acts may be to come.
“They wanted to raise the level of ugliness,” Abdulmanam Almushawah, head of a Saudi government program called Assakeena, which works to combat militant Islamic websites. “If they didn’t bring something new, people won’t pay attention to them. We expect more ugliness in the future.”
The airman is the latest captive whose killing was choreographed and documented by Islamic State, which says it is punishing countries that joined the U.S.-led military campaign to crush its self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria. The group said it killed two Japanese hostages as punishment for Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s offer of $200 million in non- military aid to help combat the extremists.
Al-Kasassbeh was captured by Islamic State in December when his plane crashed in Syria during a bombing run against the group. The Jordanian government said he was killed on Jan. 3, without elaborating on how it got the information.
In Iran, the Foreign Ministry said the pilot’s killing was “inhumane and un-Islamic.” Saudi Arabia called it a “heinous crime,” adding the “barbaric cowardly act” is not sanctioned by the principles of the tolerant Islam set in Koran.
The Grand Imam of Egypt’s Al-Azhar, Ahmed Al-Tayeb, described Islamic State as a “satanic terrorist group.”
Oman’s Foreign Ministry called it a criminal act that “reflects a deep-rooted hatred and organized terrorism against all Muslims and contradicts religious law.”
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