Burning of pilot stems from sick Twitter campaign

Depraved: The flames reach the cage holding the helpless pilot. It is later flattened by a bulldozer.

Depraved: The flames reach the cage holding the helpless pilot. It is later flattened by a bulldozer.

Thousands of ISIS supporters took to Twitter in the days after Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh was captured to suggest sick methods of execution - including the two techniques that ultimately resulted in his death, it emerged today.

Kasasbeh was seen being burnt alive before being run over by a bulldozer in a 22-minute-long video released by the terror group yesterday, in which the level of barbarism and brutality sunk to new lows, even by ISIS' depraved standards. 

Horror: A Twitter user calling himself Black Flag suggested using wild animals to execute Kasasbeh before suggesting death by chainsaw or melting with acid as possible alternatives.

Horror: A Twitter user calling himself Black Flag suggested using wild animals to execute Kasasbeh before suggesting death by chainsaw or melting with acid as possible alternatives.

The method of murder raises the chilling prospect that ISIS may have been influenced by the Twitter campaign, which used the Arabic hashtag #SuggestAWayToKillTheJordanianPilotPig to elicit ideas from the terror group's supporters. 

In the days after Kasasbeh's capture - which occurred on December 24 when his F-16 fighter jet suffered mechanical problems and crash-landed close to ISIS' Syrian stronghold and de facto capital Raqqa - militants used Twitter to crowd source ideas for his execution.

Another horrific idea from a Twitter user calling himself Abu Ishaq Sophistication was to either place Kasasbeh in a tank and set it alight, or to use acupuncture needles dipped in acid to disfigure him, before cutting off his head and sending it head back to Jordan.

A second hashtag labelled #WeAllWantToSlaughterMoaz and carrying more brutal execution ideas and videos of children killed in coalition airstrikes, was retweeted over 11,000 times.

Jordanian officials have told the devastated family of the 26-year-old (pictured) that they believed the footage to be genuine and that the man branded a ‘hero’ in his homeland was dead.

Jordanian officials have told the devastated family of the 26-year-old (pictured) that they believed the footage to be genuine and that the man branded a ‘hero’ in his homeland was dead.

It is not known whether any of those taking part in the campaign - including the organisers of the hashtag - have any sway with the ISIS leadership and whether any of the ideas influenced the eventual decision to murder Kasasbeh by burning him alive. 

But what the horrific suggestions do show is the outrageous levels of barbarism and hatred among ISIS' supporters, many of whom live in the West, far from the terror group's self-declared caliphate.

It is also important to note that following the gruesome video's release ISIS supporters attempted to justify death by burning and bulldozer as a similar fate met by those killed in an airstrike - suggesting bombing victims are often burnt and crushed to death in their homes. 

The sickening Twitter campaigns appear to have been a reaction to the hashtag #WeAreAllMoaz where individuals praised the pilot and offered prayers and support for his family after his capture.

That original hashtag was retweeted more than 200,000 times and was supported by Queen Rania and Crown Prince Hussein of Jordan.

The early nature of the campaign suggests reports that ISIS executed Kasasbeh at the beginning of January may well be accurate.

Experts add that the slick, professionally shot 22-minute video would have taken some time to edit.

The footage of Kasasbeh's eventual murder was laced with highly symbolic imagery, not least the fact he appears to have been killed in a rubble-strewn courtyard damaged by coalition war planes.

Even by the Islamic State's barbaric standards, the terror group's latest execution video reached a truly depraved new low.

The footage shows the Jordanian pilot being burnt alive in scenes that are far too shocking to even consider publishing.

As with previous beheading videos featuring British executioner Jihadi John, the 22-minute-long clip is characterised by its slick production values and graphics.

But unlike the others, it contains an added cinematic dimension designed to achieve unparalleled impact on the viewer - as if the horror of watching someone torched to death wasn't enough.

ISIS blames the F-16 fighter pilot for burning houses - and killing babies - with airstrikes before he was captured in December. 

The manner of his death is a symbolic show of strength to strike terror into 'non-believers' and encourage recruits or doubters within their ranks in equal measure.

But it appears the ISIS PR machine was well-aware of the stir the execution footage would cause, even before the disturbing images were circulated online.

Just ten minutes after the video was released, the jihadist group published a checklist of justifications, in a bid to encourage ISIS supporters to defend the barbaric actions.

The post, uploaded onto pro-ISIS jihadi forum Al-Platform, offered guidance to ISIS sympathisers over what they should say if questioned about the merits of the brutal murder.

In the post, entitled 'Moaz Was Burnt Alive, Below Is the Islamic Justification for Such an Act', it gives a list of apparent defences which it says might be in accordance with Islamic principles. 

The crowd sourcing of execution ideas, the digital release of the video and the way attempted justifications for the gruesome murder were posted online all reinforce the importance of social media to the ISIS propaganda machine.

Although the group have been fighting in Iraq since at least 2004 and have had a presence in Syria for many years, ISIS' declaration of a caliphate last summer saw support for the terror group rocket, largely driven by the highly active social media use of its fighters.

Jihadis who appear in the group's officially released propaganda videos become virtual online celebrities, holding question and answer sessions and giving advise on the website Ask.Fm, and using Twitter to share details of the daily life as a terrorist fighting in the Middle East.

Many of the militants use English as a lingua franca, not least for its potential to reach, influence and possibly even recruit would-be jihadis still living in the West.

The use of a British national as ISIS' executioner in chief has had the same effect, leading to supporters regularly sharing images of the killer known as Jihadi John and sharing quotes taken from the sickening murder videos in which he has appeared.

Jordan has executed two ISIS-linked prisoners, including a would-be female suicide bomber, it has been revealed this morning.

The executions, at about 4am local time today, came just hours after Islamic State militants released a sickening video showing a captured Jordanian fighter pilot being burned alive in a cage. This morning, government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani announced that two of those prisoners had been executed.

Al-Rishawi was hanged at dawn alongside Ziad al-Karbouli, an Iraqi al Qaeda operative, who was convicted in 2008 for killing a Jordanian.

The executions took place at Swaqa prison about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of the Jordanian capital of Amman. 

At sunrise, two ambulances carrying the bodies drove away from the prison with security escorts.

(source)

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