Islamic State shoots down Jordanian warplane in Raqqah, captures pilot


The Islamic State released a picture of its fighters and Jordanian pilot First Lieutenant Mu’adh Yusuf al Kasasbeh after shooting down his aircraft over Raqqah in Syria. Image from the Islamic State via the SITE Intelligence Group.

The Islamic State shot down a Jordanian warplane today as it was conducting operations over the Syrian city of Raqqah, and captured the pilot.

The Islamic State’s Raqqah division “identified the pilot as First Lieutenant Mu’adh Yusuf al Kasasbeh,” a Jordanian, and published photographs of its fighters capturing him in what appears to be a body of water and then marching him away, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which obtained the images. The jihadist group also published photographs of the wreckage of the warplane.

The jihadist group said it shot down Kasasbeh’s aircraft with an anti-aircraft missile as he was flying a mission over Raqqah, the de facto capital of the Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria.

The Jordan Armed Forces confirmed that one of its warplanes was shot down as it was conducting an operation near Raqqah and that one of its pilots was being held “hostage,” The Jordan Times reported. Kasasbeh’s family confirmed he was being held by the Islamic State.

The Jordanian government claimed that the hostage situation would not impact its involvement in the coalition that has been launching airstrikes against the Islamic State and occasionally the Al Nusrah Front, al Qaeda’s official branch in Syria. “The government pledged to continue war on terrorism in defending Islam,” the newspaper stated.

The Jordanian aircraft is the first from the Coalition that has been shot down by the Islamic State or other jihadist groups in either Iraq or Syria since the US and its allies began launching airstrikes in Iraq on Aug. 7 and Syria on Sept. 22. Kasasbeh is the first Coalition hostage.

The Islamic State and other jihadist groups such as the Al Nusrah Front and the Muhajireen Army have shot down several Syrian warplanes and military helicopters since the civil war began in the spring of 2011. Additionally, the Islamic State has shot down multiple Iraqi military helicopters in Iraq.

The jihadist groups are flush with shoulder-fired anti-aircraft weapons after overrunning numerous Syrian and Iraqi military bases and seizing weapons caches that have been left behind.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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  • m3fd2002 says:

    Just saw that one on SOHR. It was inevitable. The “coalition” is flying over hostile terrain the size of California. It does not even take a missile to take one of the single engine birds down. Any number of technical problems can make the pilot eject. I’ve stated before, if a US pilot is captured it will have massive political implications. The real question is what are our objectives. To “degrade” ISIS capabilities? The bombardments are killing about 10 people a day, according to Pentagon estimates, which will have limited impact on the facts on the ground. This is RED on RED. The Kobani front is being fought by the PKK/YPK (communists) against Salafists, neither have any love lost for the US. Some elements of Iraqi PUK and KDP are reliable US allies, but even they have hostile elements imbedded. This mess is exactly what the seasoned professionals were predicting would happen if the US left Iraq too quickly, but the current US administration chose to ignore those voices and follow the advice of people who had a different theory about Muslim “brotherhood” and tolerance.

  • Eric says:

    CENTCOM is disagreeing….
    “Evidence clearly indicates that ISIL did not down the aircraft as the terrorist organization is claiming,” said US Central Command, the body overseeing the coalition air war over Iraq and Syria.
    The statement did not give a cause for the “crash,” and confirmed the lost jet’s Jordanian pilot had been taken captive by IS guerrillas.
    “We strongly condemn the actions of ISIL, which has taken captive the downed pilot,” said CentCom commander General Lloyd Austin.
    “We will support efforts to ensure his safe recovery, and will not tolerate ISIL’s attempts to misrepresent or exploit this unfortunate aircraft crash for their own purposes.”

  • Tom says:

    IS twitter posts confirm the pilot is being taken to Jihadi John…
    Well if you haven’t gotten the memo yet, IS doesn’t take prisoners.

  • Bill S. says:

    It doesn’t take missiles to shoot down modern jets or helicopters. During the Vietnam War, close to 3000 fixed wing aircraft were lost through hostile action or accidents, and over 5000 helicopters. Only a very few of these were lost of Russian built SAMs over North Vietnam. The rest were lost of Vietcong and North Vietnamese anti-aircraft fire.
    It’ s inevitable that Coalition warplanes are going to get shot down. Flak and AA, properly controlled and coordinated, can potentially bring down any number of the drones and airplanes being used against the ISIL and other Jihadists.
    Drones fly only around 100 to 150 miles per hour. They fly out of rifle range, but the type of AA fire the US Air Force encountered over North Vietnam would be sufficient to bring any of them down.
    The Iraqi Air Force and other air forces are increasingly converting transport planes and other light aircraft that were never intended to go into combat into platforms for Hellfire missiles. When you hear of the Iraqi Air Force deploying Cessnas to launch Hellfire missile attacks on Jihadists, it’s inevitable that a lot of these planes are going to get knocked out of the air, as soon as the Jihadists wake up.
    Indeed, one might wonder why they haven’t done so already. Against a determined attack by US Air Force fighter jets that would turn any AA battery into a primary target, AA fire would be useless. But against the assortment of drones, helicopters and light aircraft that some countries like Iraq use, anti aircraft fire could potentially become very deadly.

  • Paul says:

    Was the downing missle US made?

  • Daniel Lopez says:

    I don’t think title should say “shot down”- because we don’t know if it was. There is no video evidence of the missile being fire nor it hitting the plane or even the plane coming down.
    It MAY have been shot down, but it also may have just had a mechanical failure.

  • Eric says:

    US Central Command released a statement on Wednesday afternoon disputing a claim made by the jihadist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS and ISIL) that they shot down a Jordanian F-16 aircraft earlier in the day.
    “Evidence clearly indicates that ISIL did not down the aircraft as the terrorist organization is claiming,” the statement said.
    CENTCOM’s statement included a quote from General Lloyd J. Austin III, who is overseeing the American military operations against ISIS. Though Austin confirmed a Jordanian pilot was captured by the group, he suggested the F-16 crashed on its own.
    Read more:

  • Amna Rizvi says:

    You haven’t mentioned the aircraft. It was an F-16!!

  • irebukeu says:

    Video released by IS claiming to be of shootdown of Jordanian F-16


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