Jordan Hit Hard by Killing of Pilot, Executes Two

Jordan has executed two prisoners who were members of al-Qaeda prior to dawn on Wednesday just hours after a video online purported to show militants from Islamic State killing a captured Jordanian pilot by burning him to death inside a cage.

The gruesome killing of Lt. Mutah al Kaseasbeh, who was 26 and captured while carrying out airstrikes for his country in a coalition led by the U.S., sparked outrage throughout the Middle East.

The father of the pilot called on his government to avenge the murder of his son and officials threatened a strong response, as King Abdullah II, who is a staunch ally of the West, rushed back from Washington.

Several thousand people were waiting at the main airport in Jordan to receive the returning monarch holding up his picture, as well as that of the pilot and the national flag.

In Raqaa, the de facto capital of the Islamic State, the slaying of al-Kaseasbeh was played on large screen TVs.

In response to the killing of the pilot, Jordan executed Ziad al-Karbouly and Sajida al-Rishawi, two Iraqis who had links to al-Qaeda, a spokesperson for the government announced. Another government official said the two were hanged.

The two executions took place in a prison 50 miles to the south of Amman the capital of Jordan.

At sunrise, the bodies were carried in two ambulances with security escorts. Authorities said the two were buried in Jordan.

Al-Rishawi was sentenced to die after her role in 2005 in a triple bombing in an Amman hotel that killed 60. Al-Karbouly was put on death row for plotting terror activities in 2008 on Jordanians inside Iraq.

The militants had demanded that al-Rishawi be released in exchange for the Jordanian pilot last week. However, Jordan refused to turn her over without proof of life of the pilot.

The military in Jordan said without details, that their pilot had been killed January 3, suggesting that officials knew any trade attempt would be in vain.

In the video before the pilot was burned alive, it appeared as though he had been beaten and had suffered at least a black eye.

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