Wife of executed Jordanian pilot discovers his fate via Facebook

February 6, 2015 9:59 am

She still hasn’t watched the grisly video which shows
burning her husband alive in a cage. She collapsed shortly after hearing
the and was admitted to hospital. The tape is still stuck to her
right hand, with a pink insert for the intravenous drip to which she was
attached.
Her husband, now a hero in Jordan, had a premonition
that his flight that fateful day was going to go badly, he told her on
what proved to be the last time they would ever talk.

Anwar Tarawneh, the wife of Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, who was
captured and killed by Islamic State (IS) group militants. Photo / AFP

When her mother first called her in tears, Anwar al-Tarawneh knew immediately that something was wrong.
Her
husband, Lieutenant Muath al-Kasaesbeh, was in the hands of Isis, after
being shot down while flying an F-16 over Syria on 24 December.
Jordan’s
government was willing to negotiate his freedom, trading his life for a
female al-Qaeda prisoner Isis wanted to have released, and Ms Tarawneh
was at a sit-in protest at a university in Amman where students were
expressing their support for him when she took the call.
She wasn’t convinced by her mother’s explanation for her tears – that two of her siblings were quarrelling.
“It
was only when I opened on my phone that I saw the post, ‘Rest
in peace, Muath,”‘ she says, her voice croaky with emotion.

Jordan's King Abdullah II (L) greeting Safi, the father of Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh. Main photo, a Jordanian jet returns from bombing Isis targets. Photo / AFP, AP
Jordan’s King Abdullah II (L) greeting Safi,
the father of Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh. Main photo, a
Jordanian jet returns from bombing Isis targets. Photo / AFP, AP
She still hasn’t watched the grisly video which shows Isis
burning her husband alive in a cage. She collapsed shortly after hearing
the news and was admitted to hospital. The tape is still stuck to her
right hand, with a pink insert for the intravenous drip to which she was
attached.
Her husband, now a hero in Jordan, had a premonition
that his flight that fateful day was going to go badly, he told her on
what proved to be the last time they would ever talk.
“He had
hoped there would be fog, so he wouldn’t have to fly,” she tells The
Independent, sitting in her late husband’s ancestral home, near the town
of Karak. Dressed in a denim knee-length coat, and wearing a headscarf,
she has trouble holding back the tears. “He had the feeling something
would go wrong,” she says. “It was strange, he had never said that
before.”
Hours later, his plane was shot down over Raqqa; he ejected successfully, but soon afterwards Isis revealed he was a prisoner.

Jordanians chant slogans to show their support for the government against terror during a rally in Amman, Jordan. Photo / AP
Jordanians chant slogans to show their support for the government against terror during a rally in Amman, Jordan. Photo / AP
Five weeks of uncertainty followed until his grim fate was
revealed. And now, thousands are gathering to pay tribute to a “martyr”
who united Jordan in its opposition to Isis.
Yesterday relatives
painted a picture of a pious, polite young man, devoted to his family, a
golden son who was loved and respected by all. The only vice he seems
to have had, a sweet tooth, made him a generous provider of sweets to
his younger sisters.
Growing up he was always in a hurry, eager
to get to school and move up in life. “It’s as if he knew his life would
be short,” one relative described him. At just 26, he had already
bought a farm.
His father, Saif, hoped that Muath would be a
doctor, and wanted him to study in Moscow. Medical books line the
anteroom to the gold-pillared reception hall in his parents’, house and
relatives say Saif never fully accepted Muath’s choice of career.
But Muath wanted to join the air force. He was fiercely proud of being a pilot. “He lived his life like an F-16,” a cousin said.
He
was married last July, far too young according to his grandmother. The
match was arranged by his oldest brother Jawad, who was friendly with Ms
Tarawneh’s brother as they both worked as engineers at an air base.
A
smile breaks through the tears when Ms Tarawneh recounts their
courtship. “I actually wasn’t supposed to end up with Muath, but with
his older brother,” she says. “When he came to see what I was like, I
wasn’t home. And then he met another girl. But the families were well
suited and his sisters also pushed for the match. So Muath ended up with
me,” she says, beaming.
Her eyes light up when she talks about
their July wedding, the white dress, the slide show of pictures of the
honeymoon in Istanbul. “That is my happiest memory of my time with him.”
They
had even picked out names for their future children. “He wanted to be
Abu Karam, so Karam would be our first-born boy. And he said I could
chose whatever I wanted if it was a girl. It was going to be Leya.”
After
their wedding, they moved into an flat in a nearby town, to be close to
the family. Five days a week, he would be on duty at the air base. And
when Jordan was one of four Arab countries to join the coalition against
Isis, he began flying sorties to Syria. “Those five months married to
Muath were better than all the 25 years before,” she says.
Some
family members are less at peace with his mission. “You sent him there
and now you come to offer your condolences,” his sister Tasnim, 22,
shouted as fighter jets flew low overhead during a visit by Queen Rania,
who had come to pay respects to the female relatives. The king was
meanwhile meeting the family’s men. “Avenge him,” she screamed
repeatedly.
Lt Kasaesbeh’s mother, Issaf, is still in shock, and
merely focuses on his devotion. “He always carried a Koran on his heart,
and never missed a prayer,” she says.

Jan. 27, 2015 file photo, the mother of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh holds a picture of her son. Photo / AP
Jan. 27, 2015 file photo, the mother of Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh holds a picture of her son. Photo / AP
The last time Anwar spoke to her husband, it was also about
prayer. “He reminded me to pray as it was sunset, and told me he had
performed a double prayer for martyrs.” Later that night, he was on the
way to what became his own martyrdom.

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