Jordan Stops Bombing ISIS After Jet Goes Down In Syria
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
The Islamic State has released what it claims is an interview with the Jordanian pilot whose F-16 went down near Roqqa, Syria last week. Jordan is part of the U.S.-led coalition that is staging airstrikes against that group. It's also known as ISIS and ISIL.
First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh was taken prisoner. And, in its English-language magazine, the Islamic State quotes him as describing the operation that he was part of. One question posed by the capture of the Jordanian airmen, is what impact this may have on Jordan's role in the coalition. And joining us from Amman is Rula Al Hroob. She's a member of Jordan's parliament. Welcome to the program.
RULA AL HROOB: Welcome. Thank you for having me.
SIEGEL: Lieutenant Kasasbeh happens to be the first pilot who has been captured by ISIS. He happens to be Jordanian. To the best of your knowledge, as a member of Jordan's parliament, are Jordanian pilots in the air these days still flying missions, or has there been some suspension?
HROOB: Yes. We have temporarily frozen our involvement in bombing the site of ISIS right now, after Kasasbeh has been captured. This should not be a permanent decision, as I believe, but, perhaps, a kind of step back to think and reflect and get the deal done with.
SIEGEL: How would you describe the reaction of Jordanians to Lieutenant Kasasbeh falling into ISIS's hands?
HROOB: Well, actually, we have the people who were strongly against our involvement in this war, get more stronger now, because they're talking about a thousand Kasasbeh to come if we continue participating in this war. We have the strong supporters of ISIS. They're still in their place, but, for the undecided. Now they're shifting a little bit towards being more enthusiastic of at least getting revenge from ISIS in case they kill Lieutenant Kasasbeh.
SIEGEL: Do you think it is even remotely possible that the Jordanian government would negotiate some kind of swap? A person who was arrested in an al-Qaida-backed terror plot, for example, in exchange for their pilot who is - whom Jordan would see, I assume, as a prisoner of war.
HROOB: Personally, I have spoken to some very high-ranking officials in the government, and I have heard their assurances to me that Jordan will do whatever is necessary to get Lieutenant Kasasbeh out of there. And we have no red lines whatsoever. Jordan is willing to get Kasasbeh out, no matter what the price was.
SIEGEL: Does that include, possibly, staging a rescue mission - taking military action to get him out?
HROOB: Of course. This might be one of the actions that is already, perhaps, they're being done on the ground right now. We have some military intelligence over there in Iraq and Syria. And we have lots of intelligence informers, you might say, there. And we're in a good position to run a negotiation with them in case we wanted to get Lieutenant Kasasbeh out. We are also talking with the Turks and with other allies to get this matter solved.
SIEGEL: Ms. Hroob, thank you very much for talking with us about it today.
HROOB: Thank you.
SIEGEL: That's Rula Al Hroob, who's a member of the Jordanian parliament. She spoke to us from Jordan's capital, Amman. We should note that a U.S. military official told NPR that the Jordanians are still flying bombing runs over Syria, and that there is no indication that they have paused since the downing of their pilot.
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