By Sal Bommarito
Yesterday, I posted an essay that addressed the downing of a Jordanian jet by ISIS fighters. There is no doubt that the jihadists have captured the pilot, Lt. Moaz al-Kassasbeh, but the U.S. military Central Command is refuting the claim that the jet was shot down by ISIS with a missile. Rather, the Command is suggesting the jet had mechanical problems. The story is being widely reported, but I have used the Wall Street Journal as the source of this essay.
The pilot was flying a mission over Syria attempting to attack ISIS terrorists. Jordan is part of the coalition fighting against the marauders and providing intelligence and logistical support. Since August, the coalition has conducted more than 830 airstrikes
As with most Arab coalition members, Jordan has not overly publicized its alliance with the U.S. fearing reprisals from terrorists and from citizens who are sympathetic to ISIS. It is taking a strong stance in its efforts to recover the pilot, and playing upon the pilot’s Muslim background along with the captive’s family. Yet, a Jordanian minister stated, “We have made sacrifices in that past, and will continue to do so for the sake of our country.” This implies that Jordan will be aggressive if necessary.
Americans hope that the Jordanian tactics are effective, but U.S. officials are “extremely worried about the pilot’s fate.” A U.S. defense official said, “All of us are very familiar with ISIL’s barbarity.”
The bigger issue is how the Arab world is going to react to the capture of Arab fighters working side by side with the U.S., especially if ISIS reacts to this publicity in a repugnant manner towards their current captive. It is absurd to assume that there will be no casualties in a conflict of this magnitude, even if most of the hostilities are conducted from 20,000 feet.
It’s painful to speculate about the fate of Lt. Kassasbeh, given the treatment of former prisoners of the terrorists. If ISIS reacts similarly, the outrage could materially affect the participation of Arab coalition partners. Frankly, up to this point, the slaughter of innocent Arabs by ISIS and the number of refugees and homelessness resulting from its invasion of Iraq and Syria has not been enough impetus to influence Arab nations to materially increase their support of the effort against ISIS.