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World

Jordan Responds To Pilots Death At The Hands Of ISIS

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Jordan's response to the grisly death of its fighter pilot at the hands of ISIS was swift and severe. At dawn this morning, two inmates in a Jordanian prison were hanged - one, the woman who was wanted by ISIS in a prisoner exchange. Here's NPR's Alice Fordham.

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: There's only one story on Jordan's State TV today. Montages of the pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh play between segments of officials vowing solidarity with his family, swearing that ISIS is criminal and un-Islamic and that Jordan will have revenge. King Abdullah appeared in a traditional headdress.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KING ABDULLAH: (Foreign language spoken).

FORDHAM: "Kaseasbeh is a hero, a martyr," he said. And he called for the country to stand together. Then, more morning news - two longtime prisoners were executed at dawn. Sajida al-Rishawi, a female would-be suicide bomber at the heart of a hostage negotiation with ISIS, and Ziyad al-Karbouli, said to be an al-Qaida associate convicted of killing a Jordanian. The Kaseasbeh family, which had been in the capital, Amman, while they waited for news, has gone to their village in the south. Many people are expected to pay their respects today in a gathering that could become a focal point for a swirling national debate. The capture of Kaseasbeh in December highlighted many Jordanians' deep ambivalence about the country's participation in the U.S.-led war against ISIS. The Kaseasbeh family told NPR last month they believe their son should not have been attacking fellow Muslims who had not struck Jordan.

(SOUNDBITE OF DEMONSTRATION)

UNIDENTIFIED CROWD: (Yelling in foreign language).

FORDHAM: Last night, crowds of people gathered in the capital. Some shouted that the king is a friend of America. They meant it as an insult. President Obama has worked to gain the support of Sunni leaders against the Sunni extremists of ISIS. But only four Arab countries joined the coalition. And The New York Times reports this morning that one of them, the United Arab Emirates, suspended its operations in December, after Kaseasbeh's capture. But public opinion in Jordan seems mixed. Some want revenge against ISIS. The pilot's death by immolation was exceptionally gruesome. Even a prominent, hard-line cleric known as Abu Sayyaf, reached by phone, condemned the group's actions. It's not whether killing him was right or wrong, he said; it's the way they did it. Alice Fordham, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.