AMMAN (Reuters) - The father of a Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State fighters after his plane crashed in Syria said he did not consider his son a hostage and called on his captors to treat him as a “guest”.
Jordan is one of several Arab countries participating in the U.S.-led military mission to bomb fighters from the Islamist group, which holds territory in both Syria and Iraq.
First Lieutenant Muath al-Kasaesbeh, 27, was captured after his jet crashed in northeast Syria on Wednesday during a bombing mission against the militants. The U.S. military, which commands the operation, said enemy fire was not the cause of the crash.
Kasaesbeh, who comes from a prominent Jordanian Sunni Muslim family, is the first pilot from the international coalition known to have been captured by Islamic State.
The Sunni Muslim jihadist group has a history of killing enemy soldiers that it captures on the battlefield and beheading Western civilians that it takes hostage. Many of the captives it has killed are Shi’ites or non-Muslims, but the group has also executed Sunnis for fighting alongside its enemies.
His family has pleaded for mercy.
“I do not want to describe him as a hostage. I call him a guest,” his father, Saif al-Kasaesbeh, told Reuters Television.
“He is a guest among brothers of ours in Syria Islamic State. I ask them - by the name of God and with the dignity of the prophet Mohammed, peace be upon him - to receive him as a guest of his hosts and treat him well,” he said.
Reporting by Reuters Television; Writing by Peter Graff; Editing by Louise Ireland