An Air Force veteran in Congress who served in Iraq said Jordan should not trade a would-be suicide bomber for a pilot’s freedom as it hands ISIS a “moral victory.”
Jordan has been weighing a deal for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi awaiting the death penalty for her role in the grisly 2005 bombing of a wedding reception at the Radisson in Amman. Her husband killed himself, but her suicide belt failed to properly detonate and she was captured.
ISIS had requested al-Rishawi be freed in exchange for Japanese war reporter Kenji Goto. Jordan wants any such deal tied to the release of air force pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh as well, but they haven’t received any proof of life that the pilot is OK.
The latest deadline set by ISIS, which has passed, was sunset today.
“Look, you have to have sympathy for the Jordanian people. They watched for a month their pilot on television paraded around, this hero,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said on Fox. “So you understand that. This sets a very bad precedent.”
“Look at the fact that, why does ISIS want this to happen in the first place? Do they really want this so-called ‘lady al-Qaeda’ out? Maybe. But at the end of the day, they wanted a victory. That will be a huge victory for them if they are able to get Jordan to, in essence, show up on their knees, release a prisoner who as been convicted through a legal court system to get their pilot back. It’s as much as a moral victory for ISIS than anything.”
U.S. Special Forces reportedly attempted, unsuccessfully, to rescue al-Kasaesbeh earlier this month.
On Christmas Eve, ISIS released the ID card of Kasasbeh and paraded parts of his downed plane, as well as images of the pilot in a soaked T-shirt and stripped from the waist down with blood coming from his mouth. ISIS’ magazine ran an “interview” with the pilot and referred to him throughout as “murtadd” — apostate.
“This is going to it be a multiyear process, especially with the president saying we will never use ground troops in this case. You will see these hostage situations and these desires for swaps and these #100 or $200 million ransom, and more beheadings. We will see this forever. This is their M.O. and they want this as a moral victory,” Kinzinger said.
“Think about the moral victory, unfortunately, maybe if this pilot has already been murdered. We hope he hasn’t been. And then Jordan offers to make a swap and find out he was murdered anyway. Again, the thing ISIS is seeking here is a major moral victory. A moral victory to them will help them recruit. They will have brought down this infidel regime in Jordan. It’s a very dangerous situation. It’s going to lead to further kidnappings and further danger. That’s why we don’t negotiate with terrorists. We can’t do it.”
There’s been extra political pressure on King Abdullah to swap for the pilot’s life because the young man comes from a powerful tribe that’s critical to support for the monarchy.