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February 4, 2015

Jordan executes 2 Al-Qaeda prisoners after Daesh kills pilot

This television screengrab shows Sajida al-Rishawi, one of the two prisoners executed by Jordan. —AP/Jordanian television


Amman (Al Jazeera): Jordan has begun executing fighters on death row as part of an "earth-shattering" response to the burning alive of one of its fighter pilots by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group.

State TV says two Iraqi prisoners on death row hanged in retaliation for ISIL's burning alive of Moaz al-Kassasbeh.

Just hours after a video emerged online on Tuesday purporting to show First-Lieutenant Moaz al-Kassasbeh engulfed in flames, a security official said executions would begin the next day.

Two Iraqis - Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be female suicide bomber, and Ziad al-Karbouli - were the first prisoners to be sent to the gallows at daybreak on Wednesday.

"The death sentence will be carried out on a group of jihadists, starting with Rishawi, as well as Iraqi al-Qaeda operative Ziad al-Karbouli and others who attacked Jordan's interests," an official told the AFP news agency.

Five other individuals on death row could also be executed.

The convicts had been moved to al-Suwaqa Jail, where executions in Jordan are typically carried out, a family member of one of the convicts told Al Jazeera's Nisreen el-Shamayleh on Tuesday.

King Abdullah II, who was visiting Washington DC as the video came to light, recorded a televised address to his shocked and outraged nation.

'Earth-shattering response'

Abdullah, who was once in the military himself, described Kassasbeh as a hero and pledged to take the battle to ISIL fighters, who have executed several captives on camera in recent months, provoking worldwide revulsion.

"Jordan's response will be earth-shattering," Mohammed Momani, information minister, said on television, while the army and government pledged to avenge Kassasbeh's murder.
"Whoever doubted the unity of the Jordanian people, we will prove them wrong."

Speaking to Al Jazeera, Abdel Bari Atwan, a Middle East analyst, said the killing of Kassasbeh was "unprecedented".

"It's a very clear message and they are trying to show maximum brutality," he said, adding that ISIL was not interested in negotiations.

"They are looking to terrorise."

US President Barack Obama, who hosted Abdullah in an Oval Office meeting, led widespread international condemnation of the latest murder, decrying the "cowardice and depravity" of ISIL.

"The president and King Abdullah reaffirmed that the vile murder of this brave Jordanian will only serve to steel the international community's resolve to destroy ISIL," a US National Security Council spokesperson said after the White House meeting.

The Obama administration earlier reaffirmed its intention to give Jordan $3bn in security aid over the next three years.

Kassasbeh was captured in December when his F-16 fighter jet crashed over northern Syria on a mission that was part of the US-led coalition air campaign against ISIL.

Jordanian state television suggested he was killed on January 3, before ISIL offered to spare his life and free a Japanese journalist in return for Rishawi's release.

The country's military had officially informed Kassasbeh's family of his death, Al Jazeera's el-Shamayleh reported from Amman on Tuesday.

The White House would not speculate on whether the video of Kassasbeh's killing was released to coincide with Abdullah's visit to Washington.

International condemnation

David Cameron, UK prime minister, called the murder "sickening", while Ban Ki-moon, UN secretary-general, labelled it an "appalling act".

The release of the video came after ISIL beheaded two Japanese hostages within a week.
Shinzo Abe, Japan's prime minister, condemned Kassasbeh's burning as "unforgivable".

The highly choreographed 22-minute footage shows Kassasbeh at a table recounting coalition operations against ISIL, with flags from the various Western and Arab countries in the alliance projected in the background.

It then shows Kassasbeh dressed in an orange jumpsuit and surrounded by armed and masked ISIL fighters in camouflage.

It cuts to him standing inside a cage and apparently soaked in petrol before a masked fighter uses a torch to light a trail of flame that runs to the cage and burns him alive.
The video also offered rewards for the killing of other "crusader" pilots.

After Kassasbeh's capture, activists in Jordan launched a number of campaigns on social-media networks to demonstrate their solidarity with him, including a Twitter and Facebook campaign named "We are all Moaz", which called for prayers for his safety.

Other anti-ISIL campaigns include Twitter campaign #BringMuathHome, with one participant tweeting, "#BringMuathHome, he was fighting terrorists that hijacked our lands, our religion, and slaughtered people".

The hashtag "Be an eagle" was widely circulated via Facebook and Twitter to express support for Kassasbeh, and Facebook pages such as "We are all pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh" drew thousands of supporters and activists.

February 3, 2015

Two more Lashkar-e-Jhangvi terrorists executed in Karachi

A hangman's noose is seen in this picture. — AFP/File


KARACHI (Dawn.com): Two more convicted terrorists affiliated with Lashkar-i-Jhangvi were hanged on Tuesday morning at the central prison in Karachi.

Attaullah alias Qasim and Mohammad Azam alias Sharif were sentenced to death for killing Dr Ali Raza Peerani in June 2001 in Karachi's Soldier Bazaar area.

Strict security measures were taken inside and around the prison. All roads leading towards the central prison were also blocked and heavy contingents of law enforcement agencies were deployed to avert any untoward incident.

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) had declared both of them guilty of the murder in July 2004.

The convicts' appeals against capital punishment had been turned down by the Sindh High Court and later the Supreme Court of Pakistan. President Mamnoon Hussain had also dismissed their mercy petitions.

Black warrants for the execution of the two condemned prisoners were issued on Jan 24 on a request of jail authorities. The trial court had asked jail officials to carry out the hanging under the supervision of a judicial magistrate today.

Following the trial court's order, the convicts held their last meetings with their families.

To Sukkur prison and back

In 2012, they convicted men were shifted to the Sukkur prison from Karachi jail due to security concerns. The jail authorities on a court order had recently shifted them back to the central prison in Karachi.

On Monday, an application of the condemned prisoners seeking suspension of their death warrants was also dismissed.

The convicts through their lawyer Mushtaq Ahmed had moved the application in an anti-terrorism court. They had said that the Sindh High Court in its order had asked the jail authorities in October 2013 to move them back to Karachi 15 days before their execution. But, the counsel argued, the SHC order was not properly complied with, as both men were shifted back hardly three days before their hanging.

The counsel had then asked the court to suspend the black warrants and issue fresh warrants in accordance with the SHC order.

While turning down the plea, Judge Mohammad Javed Alam of the ATC-V observed that the 15 days' time was not specifically mentioned in the SHC order.

The trial court had already issued shifting orders of both convicts on a similar application last week, the court added.

Both condemned prisoners have been dodging death for the past many years, since the implementation on their black warrants repeatedly issued by the trial court was stayed as the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) government had placed a moratorium on executions after coming to power in 2008. The moratorium was lifted on Dec 17, 2014 in the wake of the Peshawar school carnage.

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