Jordan executes two Iraqi militants in response to pilot's death

Jordan executes two Iraqi militants in response to pilot's death
Japanese Kenji Goto (L) and Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh (C) were killed by Islamic State. Iraqi militant Sajida a-Rishawi (R) was one of the two al Qaeda jihadists executed by Jordan.

AMMAN - Jordan hanged two Iraqis on Wednesday, including a female militant, hours after Islamic State released a video appearing to show a captured Jordanian pilot being burnt alive, a security source and state television said.

Islamic State militants had demanded the release of the woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, in exchange for a Japanese hostage who was later killed.

Jordan has promised an "earth-shaking response" to the killing of its pilot, Muath al-Kasaesbeh.

Authorities also executed a senior al Qaeda prisoner, an Iraqi man who was sentenced to death in 2008 for militancy.

The fate of Kasaesbeh, a member of a large tribe that forms the backbone of support for the country's Hashemite monarchy, has gripped Jordan for weeks and some Jordanians have criticised King Abdullah for embroiling them in the US-led war that they say will provoke a militant backlash.

The prisoners were executed in Swaqa prison, a large facility 70 km (45 miles) south of the capital, Amman, just before dawn, a security source who was familiar with the case said.

"They were both calm and showed no emotions and just prayed," the source added without elaborating.

Rishawi, in her mid-forties, was sentenced to death for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people. It was the worst Islamist suicide attack in Jordan's history.

Scores of Jordanians, infuriated by Kasaesbeh's killing, gathered at midnight in a main square in the capital calling for revenge and her quick execution.

Holding placards showing images of the pilot, several youths chanted "Death, Death to Daesh," using a pejorative Arabic acronym for Islamic State.

Jordan said on Tuesday the pilot had been killed a month ago. Disclosing that information appeared to be an attempt to counter domestic criticism that the government could have done more to strike a deal with Islamic State to save him.

In Karak, Kasaesbeh's hometown in southern Jordan, dozens of protesters had attacked a government building late on Tuesday, blaming the authorities for failing to do enough to save him.

Tribal elders calmed the crowd down.

The second executed militant was Ziyad Karboli, an Iraqi al Qaeda operative, convicted for killing a Jordanian, said the security source, who declined to be identified.

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