The barbaric killing of Jordanian pilot Math al-Kasasbeh has shocked and disgusted the civilized world. The Jordanian people have already retaliated and begun their process of mourning, but some are asking whether al-Kasasbeh was already dead well before the video was posted. The Daily Beast has published an article on that topic, exploring the pieces of the story that simply do not add up. There are enough questionable pieces of information for people to start asking a chilling question: was ISIS’ prisoner already dead?
There are actually quite a few good reasons to believe that al-Kasasbeh was already dead while the negotiations were taking place. Intelligence officials from Jordan, Britain and the United States all had their suspicions. Possible dates of the pilot’s death raged from January 3 to between January 5-8 or as late as January 20. All of these estimates put the Jordanian hostage far outside of the deadline of January 28. ISIS has done this kind of thing before, notably with American Steven Sotloff. Because of this, American officials now operate under the assumption that any hostages ISIS shows on film may already be dead at the time of a video’s release.
In the case of the Jordanian al-Kasasbeh, there are four good reasons to assume he was already dead.
- ISIS repeatedly refused to give Jordan any proof of life, indicating that they could not do so because he had already been killed.
- A journalist operating under the pseudonym Abu Ibrahim al-Raqqawi reported that ISIS militants had been celebrating a pilot’s death on January 8. He was told this by a fellow Syrian journalist who was inside the town where al-Kasasbeh was murdered.
- Bruising around al-Kasasbeh’s eye shows up in both his execution video and images of him giving an interview to the terror group’s Dabiq magazine released on December 30. The bruising patterns and color indicate that the interview and his death occurred close together in time.
- The video of al-Kasasbeh’s murder is a highly edited and seemingly professionally done job which experts say would have taken some time to produce. The time it would have taken to create the video would account for the amount of time between al-Kasasbeh’s death and its release, meaning that he was dead long before it was published.
These factors seem to point to one conclusion: ISIS had killed their hostage already and never intended to negotiate with Jordan at all. Jordanian officials were probably already aware of this at the outset, prompting some to question why they did not inform the family of their suspicions. More than likely, they wanted to hope they were wrong. A less optimistic analysis would say that they intended to put pressure on ISIS by asking for proof of life and ultimately discredit them as negotiators in front of the international community. Many in Jordan are angry that the public was not informed of this before now, a fact which compounds their anguish of al-Kasasbeh’s death.
Was ISIS’ hostage, the Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh, already dead when the video of his murder was released? The evidence points to yes, a fact which could affect all future negotiations with the terrorist organization in the future. While intelligence organizations have already had their suspicions, the public are now aware that this is an ongoing problem in negotiations. At the very least, it may temper the public’s expectations for future captives’ releases.
By Lydia Bradbury