Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 9 August 2020

Belgian ISIS prisoner ‘confesses’ to taking part in burning of Jordanian fighter pilot

Swedish citizen Osama Krayem admitted that he was one of the masked men in the footage

An aerial view of the site in a village in Syria's Idlib province, 5km from the Turkish border, that was flattened during a US operation to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. AFP 
An aerial view of the site in a village in Syria's Idlib province, 5km from the Turkish border, that was flattened during a US operation to kill ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi. AFP 

A suspected ISIS terrorist confessed to his role in the murder of a Jordanian fighter pilot who was locked in a cage and burnt to death.

Osama Krayem, a Swedish citizen of Syrian origin, is being held in jail in Belgium on suspicion of being an important player in the 2015 Paris attacks and 2016 Brussels bombings which killed dozens of people.

The murder of Lt Moaz Al Kassasbeh, 26, attracted worldwide attention after ISIS released a video of his horrific torture and death.

Belgian newspaper De Standaard reported that Krayem had admitted he was one of the masked terrorists seen in the footage but that he was not the one who set him on fire.

“I was there,”he was reported as saying.

Al Kassasbeh was captured on December 24 in 2014 after his F-16 jet crashed near Raqqa while on a mission over northern Syria, as part of the US-led coalition campaign against ISIS.

The extremists claimed to have shot down his plane, but Jordan and the United States said it crashed in an accident.

The group released a video of his death in February 2015 and the footage was one of the terror group’s most brutal executions of a foreign hostage.

At the time Jordanian authorities said Al Kassasbeh had been killed on January 3, before ISIS offered to free a Japanese journalist in return for the release of an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber held in Jordan.

The extremists did not include Al Kassasbeh in the deal.

Former US president Barack Obama denounced the murder, saying: “Should this video be authentic, it’s just one more indication of the viciousness and barbarity of this organisation.”

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, also condemned the killing, saying: “This heinous and obscene act represents a brutal escalation by the terrorist group, whose evil objectives have become apparent.”

The video had shown Lt Al Kassasbeh sitting at a table discussing coalition operations against ISIS, with flags from the various western and Arab countries in the alliance projected in the background.

It next showed him dressed in an orange jumpsuit surrounded by armed and masked ISIS fighters. Krayem admitted that he was one of the men.

The pilot was then shown standing soaked in petrol inside a cage before a militant uses a torch to light a trail of flame running into the cage, burning him alive.

His family had urged ISIS to release the newly-wed pilot. His fighter jet was the first lost in the coalition strikes against ISIS.

The extremist group had previously beheaded two US journalists, an American aid worker and two British aid workers in similar videos.

Krayem is due to stand trial next year for his alleged role in other European attacks and has been detained in Belgium since 2016.

Belgian authorities last year allowed French prosecutors to question him.

Investigators believe he played a key role in the terrorist cell behind the attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people, and Brussels, which killed 32 people.

Krayem is suspected of buying the bags used for the Brussels attacks.

Updated: December 30, 2019 07:09 PM

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