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Islamic State Video Claims to Show Jordanian Pilot Being Burned Alive

A video published on social media by Islamic State sources claims to show Jordanian hostage Moaz al Kasasbeh in a cage, engulfed by flames.

by Alice Speri
Feb 3 2015, 6:10pm

Photo by Nasser Nasser/AP

A video published on social media by Islamic State sources claims to show Jordanian hostage Moaz al Kasasbeh in a cage, engulfed by flames.

The horrifying 22-minute video is dubbed "Healing the believers' chests," and is replete with graphics and special effects. In addition to images of Western and Jordanian officials, the video includes renderings of a Royal Jordanian Air Force plane flying over Syria and exploding. 

The 26-year-old pilot is then shown in an orange jumpsuit addressing the camera. He proceeds to speak over footage of his capture, and calls on Jordanian families to not let their sons join attacks on the Islamic State so that they are spared the suffering his family has gone through. The footage cuts to images of al Kasasbeh standing in a cage with a line of fuel leading to him. A masked militant then lights the fuel with a torch.

The video ends with a list containing the names, photos, and possible locations of other Jordanian pilots participating in airstrikes, announcing rewards for whoever kills a "crusader pilot."

Photos of al Kasasbeh's murder where also shared on social media. 

Al Kasasbeh was captured in December by militants when his plane crashed near Raqqa, Syria, the de-facto "capital" of the caliphate. Jordan is part of a US-led coalition that has been conducting airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria.

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Jordanian officials had tried to negotiate the pilot's release for the last several days, attempting to arrange a prisoner exchange. Jordan had offered to trade al Qaeda member Sajida al Rishawi, who faces the death penalty for her role in a 2005 attack at a hotel in Amman that killed 60 people, for the pilot. In an ultimatum, al Kasasbeh's captors had threatened to kill him immediately if al Rishawi was not delivered to the Turkish border by sunset on January 29.

According to Jordanian officials cited by Sky News Arabic, al Rishawi will be executed early Wednesday in Jordan.

Jordanian authorities reportedly confirmed the pilot's death, but according to Jordanian state television, he was killed nearly a month ago. Earlier this week, following the beheading of the second Japanese hostage, journalist Kenji Goto, the Jordanian government reportedly said it would do "everything it can" to secure his release.

In a statement, White House officials said the intelligence community was working to verify the video's authenticity. 

"The United States strongly condemns ISIL's actions and we call for the immediate release of all those held captive by ISIL," National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said. "We stand in solidarity with the Government of Jordan and the Jordanian people."

Follow Alice Speri on Twitter: @alicesperi