Since ISIS announced it burned a captured Jordanian pilot to death, his country has mourned him as a martyr, but his family has mourned him as a son, a cousin.
Moath al-Kasasbeh’s mother, just out of the hospital, was too frail to speak Thursday, as she sat with other women in mourning. But his cousin Layla al-Kasasbeh shared fond memories of him between crying spells.
“He always wanted to be a pilot,” she said. He was a really smart guy, and everyone loved him. And he was well-known, and he was that guy who was so popular.”
Al-Kasasbeh left behind a widow. They had wed just six months before. On the spot of their ceremony, the family’s men gathered in a tent.
Nation finds rallying point
Men from all over the nation lined up to file through, and express condolences and outrage, and they were joined by their King, Abdullah II.
As the monarch approached, the crowd vowed to give their lives to his cause of destroying ISIS. “Our blood, our souls, we sacrifice for you,” they chanted in loud, rhythmic unison.
To Jordanians, al-Kasasbeh is a national hero, their new rallying point.
King Abdullah embraced the slain pilot’s father and sat down with him to talk. Safi al-Kasasbeh has pleaded for a long campaign of vengeance for his son’s death, and after Abdullah left, he said the King had heard him.
“He promised us a good promise that he will bombard ISIS’ strongholds until he avenges Moath’s death and destroys them,” he said.
Warplanes salute family
The King said he’d bombard ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria, al-Kasasbeh said. Abdullah told him the military sent 30 Jordanian fighter jets into the battle.
Abdullah also visited Jordan’s armed forces headquarters Thursday, state media reported.
The King confirmed his promise to al-Kasasbeh’s family with the thunder of fighter jets over their heads.
The planes overflew the slain 27-year-old lieutenant’s home in the village of Ay in Karak governorate, saluting him, as they returned from the fresh bombing operation named after him — “Moath the Martyr.”