Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Islamic State Captures Jordanian Pilot In Syria


Extremists with the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS, have captured a Jordanian pilot in northern Syria. He was flying as part of the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS when his fighter jet went down near Rocca, an ISIS stronghold. In a moment we'll talk with a reporter who has just seen the coalition's fight up close. NPR's Alice Fordham begins our coverage, though, and reports that today's incident has shaken Jordan.

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: The first the world heard of the crash was on Twitter. Several images appeared on accounts usually used by ISIS, showing bearded men in camouflage carrying a young man with a bloodied mouth out to a lake. The extremists gleefully posted pictures of the wreckage of a jet and of a military ID identifying the man as Mouaz al Kassessbeh. The extremists claim they shot down the plane, but the U.S. military released a statement saying evidence clearly indicates that ISIS did not shoot down the aircraft and the U.S. will support efforts to get the pilot back. Jordanian state media confirmed that a plane crashed and a pilot was taken hostage. Mr. Kassessbeh's father told Jordanian media the family had been contacted by the Air Force. The pilot's brother, Jawad, gave an interview to an opposition Syrian radio station.


JAWAD KASSESSBEH: (Foreign language spoken).

FORDHAM: He addresses ISIS respectfully, calling them sheikhs. My brother is a devout Muslim, he says, always praying and fasting during Ramadan. He flies with a Quran in his pocket. Please, please let him to go.

In Jordan, many were shaken by the news and the story dominated the media, Facebook and Twitter, with more than 15,000 people liking a Facebook page called "We Are All Mouaz Kassessbeh," which has a logo with the Jordanian flag refashioned into the shape of a fighter jet and the word Mouaz. President Obama has repeatedly hailed Jordan as a key ally in the anti-ISIS coalition. Earlier in the month, Jordanian King Abdullah II visited the White House and Obama called Jordan one of our most effective and capable and steadfast partners, adding that he appreciated his personal friendship with the king. Alice Fordham, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Alice Fordham is an NPR International Correspondent based in Beirut, Lebanon.