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Islamic State Releases Q&A 'Interview' With Captured Jordanian Fighter Pilot

The militant group published statements attributed to the captive pilot in which he describes his F-16 being hit by a heat-seeking missile.

by Liz Fields
Dec 30 2014, 6:48pm

Photo via Raqqa Media Center/Twitter

The Islamic State released what is allegedly a short question and answer-style interview with the Jordanian pilot captured by the militants last week after his plane was downed over the militant stronghold of Raqqa, in northern Syria.

The purported interview was published in Dabiq, the English-language version of the militants' online magazine. It quotes 1st. Lt. Muath al-Kasaesbeh as stating that his coalition F-16 fighter jet was "struck by a heat-seeking missile."

"I heard and felt its hit," Kasaesbeh is quoted as saying. "The other Jordanian pilot in the mission contacted me from a participating jet and told me that I was struck and that fire was coming out of the rear nozzle of my engine."

VICE News could not independently verify the legitimacy of interview, which was published alongside photos of the 26-year-old pilot. The Islamic State has frequently exploited its captives for propaganda purposes, forcing them to make anti-coalition statements before executing them.

US officials have countered the Islamic State's version of events, saying the plane crashed and was not shot down as the militants claim.

Islamic State fighters capture Jordanian pilot after downing coalition warplane in Syria. Read more here.

Kasaesbeh is the first pilot captured by insurgents since the US-led coalition — which includes Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and a number of other Middle Eastern nations — began airstrikes in Syria in September.

A newlywed, Kasaesbeh comes from a prominent Jordanian family, and officials from the country reacted strongly to his capture, threatening the Islamic State with "grave consequences" if harm comes to the pilot. Other lawmakers have called for Jordan to pull out of the coalition.

Jordan has yet to issue an official statement on the interview, although officials have said the pilot's capture will not alter the country's involvement in fighting the Islamic State insurgency.

Algerian army kills jihadist leader behind murder of French hostage Hervé Gourdel. Read more here.

Kasaesbeh also reportedly discussed Middle Eastern and US involvement in the fight against the militants, and described sharing meals with American personnel at his air base.

"The Americans sometimes have dinner with us and eat mansaf (a traditional Arab dish) which they like a lot," he reportedly said. "Their talk does not include details about operations because of matters of secrecy and security."

In the same issue of the magazine, the militants praised the armed hostage situation in Sydney perpetrated last month in Sydney by a gunman who claimed to be affiliated with the Islamic State. Three people, including the hostage-taker died in the attack. The publication also carried pictures of an American oil worker that an Egyptian militant group affiliated with the Islamic State claimed to have killed earlier this month.

Sydney siege ends with three dead after police storm café. Read more here.

Follow Liz Fields on Twitter: @lianzifields

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