By Ali Younes
According to New York attorney Stanley Cohen, the Islamic State or ISIS will not be interested in negotiating with the Jordanian government to free its captured Jordanian pilot. Not any time soon at least. This is because, he argues, the way Jordan handled the negotiations to save American aid worker Peter Kassig.
Jordanian pilot Muath Kasasbeh was captured after his F-16 fighter jet crashed in al Raqqa in Syria during a bombing raid last Tuesday. Jordanian military spokesman Colonel Mamdouh al Ameri told the Arab Daily News on the phone from Amman that it is unclear how the plane crashed during its mission. He added that “the Jordanian armed forces have formed a commission to investigate the causes of the crashed airplane.” Meanwhile, ISIS social media accounts published pictures of the Kasasbeh stripped of his military uniform, held and surrounded by heavily armed men. In the “the Race to Save Peter Kassig” the Guardian reported last week that Cohen started, last October, a secret negotiations channel with ISIS, through Jordanian Jihadist leader Abu Mohammad al Maqdisi to free American aid worker Peter Kassig. Cohen saw his efforts come to an abrupt end after the Jordanian intelligence arrested Maqdisi effectively shutting the negotiations with ISIS down and eventually led to ISIS killing Kassig. Meanwhile, Kasasbeh’s father and other family members pleaded with ISIS to preserve the life of his son asking them to treat him as a “guest” not as a hostage or a prisoner.
Journalist Tareq al Fayed, a reporter for Pan-Arab Al Quds Al Arabi newspaper in Amman described to the Arab Daily News on the phone from Amman the mood in Jordan as “tense” and “very supportive” of the downed pilot. “Jordanians of all walks of life across the kingdom are rallying behind the young pilot” he said. He added that “Jordanians are very emotional over the fall of Kasasbeh in the hands of ISIS”.
Although Jordanian press reported that the Jordanian intelligence might enlist Jihadist salafist groups to help negotiate with ISIS to release the pilot, it is however; unlikely that such move will make ISIS want to negotiate with the Jordanian intelligence.
Jordanian Salafist leaders such as Abu Qatada and Maqdisi have been outspoken critics of ISIS over its savagery in killing its opponents and for beheading western journalists and aid workers. Abu Qatada and Maqdisi do not have formal or informal ties with ISIS and both have a strong doctrinal stand against it. Both leaders, however, have ties to former students and associates who later joined ISIS.
During the secret negotiations to save Peter Kassig, Maqdisi made contacts with his former student Turki Bin Ali, a Baharini ISIS chief judge, in trying to convince him to release Kassig with formal authorization from the Jordanian intelligence via the FBI. The Jordanian intelligence however arrested Maqdisi 2 days into the negotiations under the pretext of making Jihadist statements online, effectively shutting down the negotiations which ultimately led to ISIS executing Kassig few weeks later.
Considering that Jordan was making uncharacteristic strong anti-ISIS statements, and participating in a very flashy and public manner in the air war against it, logic says that ISIS would not be in a hurry or even interested in talking to the Jordanians to exchange the pilot with Pre-ISIS, Zarqawi-era jihadists in Jordanian jails. ISIS, will most likely, instead, hold on to the pilot for a long time and will taunt and torture the Jordanians with taped messages and pleas for help from the pilot with every bombing raid from the US-led coalition against their positions. Already Jordanian ISIS jurist Saad al Huneity tweeted on his twitter account messages expressing joy over the capture of the pilot and responding to the pilot’s mother and family who were asking for his release telling them that their son had joined the enemies of Islam and for doing so he had become an apostate. A very grave and ominous sign.
Ali Younes is the Editor of the Arab Daily News and can be reached at : firstname.lastname@example.org and on twitter @clearaliyounes
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