Jordan Unleashes Wrath On ISIS

Days after news emerged that ISIS had burned a captive Jordanian pilot to death, Jordan hit back, and vows to do more, according to CNN.

Fighter jets did airstrikes Thursday, then did a fly-over at the home of the slain 27-year-old pilot, Lt. Moath al-Kasasbeh, in the village of Ay in Karak governorate.

“This is just the beginning and you shall know who the Jordanians are,” the armed forces said in a statement on state TV.

They claimed they hit ISIS training centers, arms and ammunition depots: “All targets were completely destroyed and all the planes returned to their bases safely.”

The air mission was named “Moath the Martyr.”

State TV aired exclusive video footage of warplanes striking unspecified ISIS positions in Syria.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh later stressed to CNN that the airstrikes meant the beginning of his nation’s retaliation over the pilot’s death, but not the start of its fight against terrorism. He vowed to destroy ISIS.

There are other Middle Eastern nations taking part in the U.S.-led military coalition against ISIS. The air campaign continued with strikes elsewhere in Syria, including near Hasaka, about 150 miles (240 kilometers) northeast of Raqqa.

“We are upping the ante. We’re going after them wherever they are, with everything that we have. But it’s not the beginning, and it’s certainly not the end,” Judeh said.

The pilot’s father, Safi al-Kasasbeh, told CNN that King Abdullah II had promised him that Jordan would avenge his son’s death and bombard ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa in Syria.

On Thursday, he said that the King told him 30 Jordanian fighter jets participated in the strikes.

CNN: Jordan May Get More Involved Against ISIS

According to CNN, the recent execution of Jordanian pilot Moath al-Kasasbeh being burned alive was different than the previously publicized executions of journalists and tourists: the victim was a Muslim.

Al-Kasasbeh was from a prominent Sunni tribal family in Jordan, and his killing has sparked outrage.

Support in Jordan for King Abdullah’s involvement in the anti-ISIS coalitions is now stronger than before, according to CNN.  There has also been outrage across the Sunni Arab world, with the head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s most prestigious center of learning, reportedly calling for ISIS fighters to be crucified.

The video of the execution was a calculated move by ISIS to weaken the resolve of Jordan and other Sunni Arab powers that have joined the U.S.-led coalition against the terror group.

However, early signs indicate the video, which may have been shot up to a month ago, has had the opposite result, creating a significant backlash from Sunnis in the region.

Spreading propaganda terror has worked before for ISIS, allowing it to punch above its weight.

Prior to launching an assault on Mosul in June, the group released a series of videos showing the militants brutalizing and killing Iraqi soldiers they had captured. It put the scare in the Iraqi army. When ISIS fighters attacked Mosul, Iraqi soldiers turned and fled despite greatly outnumbering the attackers.

The release of the video to coincide with Jordanian King Abdullah II’s visit to the United States may have been deliberate — the optics of the Jordanian King in Washington served ISIS’ narrative of the kingdom being a puppet for the “Crusaders.”

While the video has rallied ISIS’ most hard-line supporters and will likely help persuade some foreign fighters to join it, it is also likely to shrink its potential pool of recruits.

The reality is that burning to death a fellow Muslim is at odds with mainstream Islamic teaching and even some ISIS sympathizers may have second thoughts. It’s a point underscored in November when Sulaimaan Samuel, a mentor in a UK Home Office scheme to prevent radicalization, said ISIS’ beheading of British aid worker Alan Henning was putting off young British Muslims from joining the group.

In the long run, ISIS’ brutality is not a winning strategy, as al Qaeda has recognized. Exactly a year before the release of the video of the Jordanian pilot being burned alive, al Qaeda’s general command cut ties to ISIS for its excess brutality and killing of Muslims.

In the coming weeks, Jordan is likely to step up its air campaign against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. But its greatest contribution to the anti-ISIS coalition will likely be its significant intelligence gathering capabilities in those two countries, which we can expect to be expanded. Jordan intelligence played a key role in gathering intelligence that led to the U.S. airstrike that killed Jordanian ISIS founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq in June 2006.

Of course, such expanded action carries the risk that ISIS will retaliate with attacks in Jordan. The executions of Sajida al-Rishawi, an ISIS female icon who was part of a team that killed almost 60 in hotels in Amman in 2005, and Ziad Karbouli, an al-Zarqawi aide captured in 2006, has deeply angered the group.

Jordan already has a significant home-grown radicalization problem — as many as 2,000 Jordanians are believed to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to fight, many with ISIS. Meanwhile, several Jordanian fighters appeared in an ISIS video released last year calling for King Abdullah to be slaughtered.

Also, last summer there were significant pro-ISIS demonstrations in Zarqa (Al Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi’s birthplace) and Ma’an by extremists excited by ISIS’ declaration of an Islamic caliphate.

Altogether, there are an estimated 9,000 pro-jihadi extremists in Jordan, according to The Associated Press, and analysts fear that number is growing due to high unemployment and other socioeconomic problems that are creating a fertile atmosphere for recruitment. Another worry is the presence of extremists among the 620,000 Syrian refugees who have fled to Jordan.

All that said, the picture in Jordan is not all bad — its overwhelmingly Sunni population at least has meant there is relatively little sectarian tension. And the brutal burning to death of one of their own has also mobilized Jordan’s conservative tribes against ISIS.

Jordan Executes Al-Qaeda Prisoners In Response To The ISIS Burning Of Pilot

Jordan has made a quick response to the apparent killing of pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh, hanging two al Qaeda prisoners. Demonstrations have also sparked in Jordan as a result of the pilot’s death.


Is 2014 Star Trek’s 50th Anniversary?

GreenGirl1The original Star Trek TV series came out in 1966, but what about the show’s origins?

The show’s pilot was called “The Cage” and had a copyright date of 1964.

“The Cage” was filmed at Desilu Productions’ studio (now known as Culver Studios) in Culver City, California, from November 27 to mid-December 1964.

Post-production work (pick-up shots, editing, scoring, special photographic and sound effects) continued to January 18, 1965.

According to Wikipedia, “The Cage” had many of the features of the eventual series, but there were numerous differences. The Captain of the starship USS Enterprise was not James T. Kirk, but Christopher Pike (played by Jeffrey Hunter).”

Spock was present, but not as First Officer. That role was taken by a character known only as Number One, played by Majel Barrett.

Spock was played by Leonard Nimoy and had the first line in all of Star Trek: “Check the circuit!” followed by, “Can’t be the screen then.”

Susan Oliver played the part of Star Trek’s original Orion Green Girl, part of her role as “Vina” in the original 1964 pilot.

NBC reportedly called the pilot “too cerebral,” “too intellectual,” and “too slow” with “not enough action.”  Sources claim it was also too sexy.

Rather than rejecting the series outright, though, the network commissioned—in an unusual, and at the time unprecedented, move—a second pilot. This was accepted and Star Trek: The Original Series began production.

Footage from “The Cage” was also “recycled” and used in a show called “The Menagerie” during the first season.