WH won’t criticize Jordan over executions

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The White House on Wednesday declined to criticize Jordan’s decision to execute two convicted jihadists after the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) released a video showing a Jordanian pilot being burned to death.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said the two Iraqi jihadists had gone through the Jordanian justice system and were “convicted of very serious terrorism-related crimes.”

{mosads}He would not comment on the timing of the executions, which came just a day after the release of the ISIS video.

“I don’t have the working knowledge of the Jordanian justice system to render an opinion on this,” Earnest said. “All I know is that the individuals that we’re discussing here were individuals who were convicted of terrorism-related crimes. They were individuals who were sentenced to death and these were individuals who’d been serving time on death row.”

The prisoners executed were Sajida al-Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber, and Ziyad Karboli, a member of al Qaeda. 

Jordan had offered to trade Rishawi for Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the pilot who was captured when his plane crashed in late December. But it appeared that effort was too late, with Jordanian media reporting he had actually been executed a month before the video depicting his death was released on Tuesday.

The European Union has criticized the executions, which came shortly after a spokesman for Jordan’s armed forces vowed their “revenge will be as huge as the loss of the Jordanians.” 

More generally, the White House said it was doing everything it could to make sure resources were in place to help rescue coalition pilots whose aircrafts were downed during the bombing campaign against ISIS.

Earnest said the country had “taken the necessary precautions to do everything we can to try to make that very dangerous mission as safe as possible.”

The White House sidestepped questions about whether the U.S. should provide military assistance, including weapons, to Jordan, as some members of Congress have called for.

Earnest said that decision would be driven by whether the Jordanian government made a specific request. He would not say whether King Abdullah II or other top Jordanian officials had done so in recent conversations with the president and senior administration officials.

Tags ISIS Jordan Josh Earnest
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