Jordanian king vows "relentless" war on Islamic State's own ground

Jordanian king vows "relentless" war on Islamic State's own ground
A man purported to be Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh is seen standing in a cage in this still image from an undated video filmed from an undisclosed location made available on social media on February 3, 2015.

AMMAN - Jordan's King Abdullah vowed a "relentless" war against Islamic State on their own territory on Wednesday in response to a video published by the hard-line group showing a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.

Jordan hanged two Iraqi jihadists, one a woman, on Wednesday and vowed to intensify military action against Islamic State.

"We are waging this war to protect our faith, our values and human principles and our war for their sake will be relentless and will hit them in their own ground," state television quoted the king as saying during a security meeting.

Jordan, which is part of the US-led alliance against Islamic State, had promised an "earth-shaking response" to the killing of its pilot, Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, who was captured in December when his F-16 warplane crashed over northeastern Syria.

Government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said on Wednesday: "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." Daesh is used as a derogatory Arabic term for Islamic State.

He said it was a continuation of Jordan's long standing policy in fighting hard-line Islamist militants and that King Abdullah, who cut short a trip to the United States, headed a meeting with senior security officials on Wednesday.

"All the state's military and security agencies are developing their options. Jordan's response will be heard by the world at large but this response on the security and military level will be announced at the appropriate time," Momani said.

Islamic State had demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi in exchange for a Japanese hostage whom it later beheaded. Sentenced to death for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack in Amman, Rishawi was executed at dawn.

Jordan also executed a senior al Qaeda prisoner, Ziyad Karboli, an Iraqi man who was sentenced to death in 2008.

The Jordanian pilot was the first from the coalition known to have been captured and killed by Islamic State.

Jordan is a major US ally in the fight against hardline Islamist groups and hosted US troops during operations that led to the invasion of Iraq in 2003. It is home to hundreds of US military trainers bolstering defences at the Syrian and Iraqi borders, and is determined to keep the jihadists in Syria away from its frontier.

CALLS FOR REVENGE

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.

Some Jordanians had criticised the king for embroiling them in the US-led war that they said would provoke a militant backlash but the pilot's killing produced a wave of outrage and calls for revenge.

Jordan's authorities have not commented on how many missions the air force has carried out against Islamic State.

In a televised statement to the nation, the king urged national unity and said the killing was a cowardly act of terror by a criminal group that has no relation to Islam.

Muslim clerics across the Middle East, even those sympathetic to the jihadist cause, also expressed outrage, saying such a form of killing was considered despicable by Islam.

President Barack Obama's nominee for defence secretary Ashton Carter on Wednesday vowed to understand and resolve reported delays in US arms sales to Jordan.

There was widespread shock and anger across Jordan at the brutality of a killing that drew international condemnation.

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