Updated at 3:38 p.m. ET
A video from the self-declared Islamic State militant group shows Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who had been held by the group since his capture in December, being burned alive.
Reporter Alison Meuse tells our Newscast unit about the video. Please note that the description is graphic. Meuse says:
“The video begins with videos of Jordan’s king meeting with President Obama and pledging his country’s support in the fight against the Islamic State. The video paints the Arab monarchy as a puppet of the West and an enemy of Muslims. A montage of newscasts announce the Jordanian pilot’s capture when his F-16 crashed in northern Syria. Then the scene changes. We see First Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh walking in an orange jumpsuit past a firing squad. He is put inside a metal cage. In slow motion, one of the masked men lights a fuse that engulfs his body in flames. We hear the pilot’s tormented screams as Islamic chants play in the background. Eventually, his blackened body kneels, seemingly lifeless. A plow buries the cage in rubble.”
Jordan’s state television confirmed the death, it also said that Kaseasbeh was killed Jan. 3 – one month ago. In a statement read on Jordanian TV, Mamdouh al-Ameri, a spokesman for the Jordanian armed forces, vowed “punishment and revenge” for Kaseasbeh’s killing.
State TV also reported that King Abdullah, who met with Vice President Joe
Biden on Tuesday, will cut short his trip to return home. Earlier today, the U.S. pledged to nearly double – pending congressional approval — aid to Jordan from $600 million to $1 billion.
Kaseasbeh’s fate was unclear until today. As recently as Jan. 29, Jordan had sought a proof of life for the pilot, saying it was willing to trade Kaseasbeh, 26, for Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman who had been sentenced to death for her role in a deadly attack in 2005 on a hotel in Amman. The Islamic State had demanded her release before sunset on that day.
Kaseasbeh was captured after his F-16 fighter jet went down over northern Syria, where he was part of the U.S.-led effort against the Islamic State. His capture led to questions in Jordan over why the country was part of the operation against the militant group.
Today’s video was released just days after the Islamic State released a video showing the beheading of Kenji Goto, a Japanese journalist. Another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, was killed last month.
President Obama said the video was “just one more indication of viciousness and barbarity” of the Islamic State. Later, in a statement, he said Kaseasbeh “will forever personify the bravery of a true son of Jordan, one who honored his family and country by his seven years of military service.”
A statement from Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said they are working to confirm the video’s authenticity, but called the events the video purportedly depict “murder.”