U.S. Central Command said a Jordanian F-16 that went down on a bombing run over the Islamic State “clearly” wasn’t shot down with a manpad as ISIS has been claiming.
ISIS released the ID card of Lt. Muath Kasasbeh and paraded parts of his downed plane, as well as images of the pilot in a soaked T-shirt and naked from the waist down with blood coming from his mouth.
CENTCOM confirmed the plane went down near Raqqa, Syria, and the pilot had been taken captive.
“Evidence clearly indicates that ISIL did not down the aircraft as the terrorist organization is claiming,” CENTCOM said in a statement.
“The Jordanians are highly-respected and valued partners and their pilots and crews have performed exceptionally well over the course of this campaign,” said Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, who is overseeing coalition operations in Iraq and Syria. “We strongly condemn the actions of ISIL which has taken captive the downed pilot. We will support efforts to ensure his safe recovery, and will not tolerate ISIL’s attempts to misrepresent or exploit this unfortunate aircraft crash for their own purposes.”
ISIS-friendly social media accounts said the lieutenant had “confessed” to a dozen bombing runs over the caliphate, with one stressing that his fate is “set in stone” if there’s no trade with the Hashemite kingdom.
“The United States is working closely with the Government of Jordan concerning the Jordanian pilot captured today,” State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement. “Our hearts and prayers go out to the pilot, his family, and our partners in the Jordanian Armed Forces.”
The pilot’s father has begged ISIS to find mercy in their hearts to release him, and Kasasbeh’s brother asked ISIS to free the pilot for the sake of their “old and sick parents.”
— Jon Williams (@WilliamsJon) December 24, 2014