Jordan’s answer to ISIL sets a new example
The Jordanian government executed two Iraqi jihadists early on Feb. 4, hours after the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) burned alive Muath al-Kasaesbeh, a Jordanian Air Force pilot who was captured in Syria in December 2014 after his F-16 crashed.
Before the Jordanian pilot, ISIL had beheaded two Japanese captives Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto after the Japanese government failed to deliver in time $200 million, the exact amount that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe had pledged for the international fight against ISIL.
The executed Islamic militants would have been released if ISIL had released the two Japanese and the Jordanian hostages as a part of a proxy deal, which proved unsuccessful.
One of the hanged Islamist militants was Sajida al-Rishawi, a female jihadist who attempted to blow herself up on behalf of al-Qaeda in 2005 in Amman, and the other Ziyad Karboli, an Iraqi man who killed a Jordanian in 2008 and had been sentenced to death.
King Abdullah II of Jordan has vowed commitment to his country’s active role in the fight against ISIL and the Jordanian army has vowed to avenge al-Kasaesbeh’s death. Similar statements also came from many other Muslim-majority countries, along with the West.
Al-Kasaesbeh was ISIL’s first Muslim hostage to be murdered publicly, apart from the mass execution of Iraqi soldiers and Kurdish fighters during ISIL’s capture of Mosul. It may be evidence that ISIL’s jihad is not intended for all Muslims, as it claims, but only for its own ideology and political targets.
The brutal killing of the Jordanian pilot may well have started a new phase in the anti-ISIL fight. Statements and indications show that there could now be an escalation in attacks and counter attacks.
The Charlie Hebdo killings in France in January made clear the need for better cooperation within the anti-ISIL coalition, and the murder of the Jordanian pilot has now made it clear that being a Muslim does not make anyone immune from being targeted by the jihadists.
The Turkish government, which has been criticized for turning a blind eye to jihadist activities in Syria as long as they aimed at the Bashar al-Assad regime, has toughened its stance, especially after the Paris attacks. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu has officially admitted that Turkey has its own foreign fighter problem and fears. However, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said it was slander to claim that Turkey was helping ISIL or al-Qaeda in neighboring Syria and Iraq - a claim made by the domestic opposition as well as Western politicians.
An Ankara court on Dec. 3, 2014 ruled for the arrest of the first Turkish citizen for being a member of ISIL and joining its actions in Syria. Musa Göktaş, a 38-year-old shopkeeper from Ankara, had gone to Syria to join ISIL in October 2014 – together with his twin sons – and was later taken into custody after he re-entered Turkey to sell his house and settle in the ISIL-controlled area of Syria.
It would be realistic to expect the Turkish government to step up law enforcement measures against jihadists who pose a threat to Ankara as well, amid continuing demands from the U.S.-led coalition to open up Turkish air bases and join the military force in the fight against ISIL.