BEIRUT — The Islamic State has released what it claims is an interview with the Jordanian pilot who was captured by the militant group after his plane went down in Syria last week.
The interview, which could not be independently verified and was published in the Islamic State’s English-language magazine, quotes 26-year-old Muath al-Kaseasbeh as saying that a “heat-seeking missile” downed his F-16 fighter jet.
He is the first known pilot captured from the U.S.-led coalition targeting the Islamic State with airstrikes on its strongholds in Syria and Iraq.
Kaseasbeh, a first lieutenant in Jordan’s air force, was seized by the group on Wednesday near the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, which is the Islamic State’s de facto capital.
The United States denies that his plane was shot down, although Jordanian officials have issued contradictory statements on the cause of the incident.
“My plane was struck by a heat-seeking missile. I heard and felt its hit,” Kaseasbeh is quoted as saying. He said he was forced to eject after the missile damaged his engine and caused the aircraft to “deviate from its normal flight path,” according to the magazine.
The Islamic State has coerced captives to participate in its propaganda activities, and it was unclear whether the group forced Kaseasbeh to issue the remarks or whether he made them at all. The group has beheaded three U.S. nationals and two Britons, and it has released videos showing the slaughter of scores of Iraqi and Syrian soldiers.
The Kaseasbeh piece also has photographs of the pilot, including one of him in an orange jumpsuit and another showing him with a group of apparent airmen being greeted by King Abdullah II, Jordan’s ruler.
In a statement issued last week, the lower house of Jordan’s parliament warned the Islamic State of “grave consequences” if Kaseasbeh is harmed.
In a television interview last week, his father pleaded for mercy, asking the group to treat his son as a “guest.”
“He is a guest among brothers of ours in Syria Islamic State,” the father, Safi al-Kasaesbeh, said in the interview.
Mohammad al-Momani, the Jordanian government spokesman, could not be reached for comment.
In the Islamic State interview, which is in question-and-answer form, the group appears to taunt Kaseasbeh over his father’s plea. It also asks him what he thinks it will do to him. He responds, “They will kill me.”
In the interview, Kaseasbeh purportedly discusses the role played in the international coalition by Arab states and the United States. The coalition, which also includes European countries, began launching airstrikes against the Islamic State in September.
Kaseasbeh’s plane came down while he was on a mission to “sweep” the area of antiaircraft weaponry, he is quoted as saying. He said warplanes from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates participated as well, according to the magazine. He also purportedly noted the involvement of F-16s from Morocco in coalition operations.
Morocco is reported to have sent aircraft to aid the coalition, although the country’s role in carrying out airstrikes is unclear.
Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the known Arab members of the coalition involved in conducting airstrikes. They target the Islamic State only in Syria, not in Iraq. Qatar plays a logistical role in the coalition.
The Islamic State magazine also carried pictures of an American oil worker whom militants in Egypt claimed in recent weeks to have killed. There is also praise for an attack this month carried out by a man of Iranian origin in Sydney. The ensuing hostage crisis left three people dead, including the assailant.