“Royal Jordanian Air Force fighter pilot Lieutenant Muath Al Kasaesbeh ejected safely over Raqqah, Syria (territory held by ISIS), after his F-16 developed a technical malfunction while on a strike mission against the terrorists.”
This was the news we got on December 24, 2014 while stepping out for a routine training mission, and as fighter pilots, we knew Muath’s safe ejection from an uncontrollable fighter jet could not be cherished, for Muath had to eject behind the enemy lines. We knew his fate instantly, for this wasn’t a conventional enemy he was up against, we’re talking about terrorists here, who have no code of conduct or rules to fight. They will go to any extreme to terrorize the people.
The most feared happened on February 3, 2015 when ISIS released a video of Muath caged and in an orange jump suit, soaked in gasoline while one militant lights a torch, and then lights a line of fuel in the sand leading toward the cage. Muath embraces martyrdom and we lost another brother for a greater cause, defending his motherland.
Soldiers do not fear death, they embrace it, they embrace it the day they take their oath. Muath proved to what extent a soldier, a fighter pilot can go in defending his country.
Although hailing from Al Karak, a small town some 140 miles South of Amman, Jordan, Muath wasn’t just a Jordanian but a brother in arms to us, a symbol of courage and resilience who was equally loved by his family and comrades. From the East to the West, everyone knows now, of the great stature of this 26 years old fighter pilot. He not only in his life proved his mettle as a fierce fighter, but his martyrdom too united not only the Jordanians worldwide but substantiated to be an eye opener for the Muslim Ummah as well.
Pakistan and Jordan enjoy the most cordial and fraternal relations which date back to the very independence of the two countries. Pakistan Air Force and the Royal Jordanian Air Force in specific have ties beyond the mighty Himalayas. PAF fighter pilots flew RJAF Hunters and shot down Israeli jets successfully defending Mafraq Air Base during the Six-Day Arab Israel War for which they were awarded Jordan’s “Order of Istaqlal”. King Hussein had a special love for PAF pilots and visited PAF Base Sargodha during his tenure to witness aerobatics and later used to call them to Jordan as well. PAF and RJAF have been under taking joint air exercises ever since strengthening the brotherly bonds further attesting the nations’ love for each other.
PAF and RJAF pilots train and get posted on mutual exchange program undertaken by both the respected Air Forces. It is for the same reason the martyrdom of Muath Al Kasaesbeh was felt to the core in every heart of a Pakistani in general and a PAF pilot in specific.
Prayers were offered for Shaheed Muath and the bereaved family at Air Bases. One for we lost a comrade and secondly PAF like RJAF is fighting the same menace, the terrorism, as a front-line force. Muath’s martyrdom has only strengthened the resolve that we will not bow down to a bunch of scumbags who abuse and escapade the religion for their monstrous ambitions.
We offered our heartfelt condolences to Captain Muath’s family and the Kasaesbeh tribe in Jordan through his personal flying instructor at F-16, Lieutenant Colonel Faisal, flying with us in Pakistan.
“He was like a son to me”, he said in a firm tone. “He lived to make people happy, and even after his death, he has united them. The nation stands behind the King”
King Abdullah, a pilot himself like his esteemed father, King Hussein, led from the front. Like the head of a sovereign nation must do, he cut short his visit to the US and rushed back to his people. Queen Rania joined Jordanians in the streets and walked with them holding vigils for Muath. Jordan vowed an “Earth-shaking” response proportionate to the magnitude of the tragedy of all Jordanians” to eliminate terrorism from its soil and strike back even harder, for revenge is the best revenge. “Jordan will continue to fight terrorism till our military runs out of bullets and fuel”, the Warrior King said.
There have been reports and denials of King Abdullah gearing up and co piloting an RJAF bomber jet, leading a strike against ISIS himself. Nonetheless, just the mere notion rippled in spirits in people across the globe. What an indomitable leader of an indomitable nation. The world leaders must take heed from his nerves and audacity.
King Abdullah also visited the bereaved Kasaesbeh tribe and met Muath’s family too while Muath’s No.1 Squadron flew a missing-man formation (a formation fighter pilots fly to honour their lost wingman, where 4 fighter jets set course for overhead in a V- formation and No.2 pulls up abruptly into the skies indicating their wingman has ascended to the heavens) over his hometown on recovering from a strike against ISIS.
Muath’s martyrdom has renewed and reiterated the world’s response in fighting off this peril of terrorism. While we all condemn and restate our resolution, let us remember Muath how he was, not how ISIS wants us to. He is not only a Jordanian fighter pilot, he is a symbol of renunciation and denial to kneel down to the terrorists come what may. Captain Muath Al Kasaesbeh, you fought well comrade. May your soul rest in eternal peace.