Jordan seeks Turkey's help in rescuing captive pilot

Jordan seeks Turkey's help in rescuing captive pilot
Amman is hoping the Turkish government can help secure the release of the Jordanian captured by IS after Ankara successfully secured the release in September of Turkish hostages held by militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul.
3 min read
Jordanians took to the steets to call for the release of the captured pilot [Getty]
Jordan has asked Turkey to help save a Jordanian pilot captured by the Islamic State group (IS) according to a source at the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Jordanian Speaker of the House of Representatives Atef Tarawneh confirmed that: "special secret parties" were working to secure First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasba release.

Kasasba [AR] was captured after his plane was shot down by IS on Christmas Eve while taking part in airstrikes against the group as part of the international anti-IS coalition.
     Kasasba was captured after his plane was shot down by IS on Christmas Eve.

According to the Turkish source the Jordanian government contacted Turkey's ambassador in Amman Sedat Önal, who passed the request on to the Turkish Foreign Ministry. Reportedly, Turkish intelligence and other relevant agencies in Turkey are following up on the request, and will notify the Jordanian government if any progress is made.

The source denied a deal had been made to release IS prisoners detained by Jordan in exchange for the pilot.

The Jordanian government is hoping the Turkish government can help after it successfully secured the release in September 2014 of 49 mainly Turkish hostages held by IS in Mosul. The hostages were detained for three months after IS raided the Turkish consulate in the northern Iraqi city.

Members of Jordan's House of Representatives have since signed a statement calling on the government to withdraw from the international coalition against IS. This is in clear defiance of royal support for Jordan's participation in the war. On 2 November, King Abdullah II of Jordan said "this war is our war", apparently responding to the slogan "this is not our war".

Using the title "this is not our war", eight deputies signed the statement rejecting Jordan's role in the war against IS. Despite describing IS as a "terrorist" group, they stressed the need to: "avoid this war and avoid putting our children in imminent danger."

"The Jordanian Armed Forces role must be limited to defending the country's borders against attempts by the organisation to infiltrate Jordanian territory," the signatories declared. 

A few hours after Kasasba's capture Mohammad al-Momani the government's spokesperson reaffirmed Jordan's commitment to the war against IS, saying it was in "defence of Islam".

On Thursday 25 December, Jordanian Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour revealed international negotiations were underway to free the pilot. He did not disclose any further details including about who was behind them.

Salafist sources told al-Araby al-Jadeed the Jordanian security services had asked Salafist-Jihadist ideologue Assem Barqawi, better known as Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, who is currently imprisoned in Jordan for help. Apparently, he has been asked to contact IS leaders and discuss their demands in exchange for Kasasba's freedom.

Jordanian Salafist leader Mohammad al-Shalabi, aka Abu Sayyaf, said IS may be willing to swop the pilot for two IS-affiliated detainees who have been sentenced to death in Jordan: Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouli. However, this has not been officially confirmed by the Jordanian government.

This is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.