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Father Of Jordanian Pilot Held By ISIS Issues Plea For His Release

The father of a Jordanian pilot taken by militants of the self-declared Islamic State is urging his release.

As we reported on Wednesday, Jordan said Flight Lt. Moaz al-Kaseasbeh was captured by ISIS after his plane crashed over northern Syria.

"The militants, on social media, and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist group, said Kasasbeh's aircraft was shot down with an anti-aircraft missile in the province of Raqqa. It is the first coalition aircraft shot down by the group that controls large swaths of Iraq and Syria."

ISIS said it had downed the plane with a heat-seeking missile, but U.S. military officials say the "evidence clearly indicates" that isn't the case. Officials further told NPR that they do not believe the plane was shot down at all, but rather crashed due to some other cause.

On Thursday, the pilot's father, Youssef al-Kaseasbeh, described his 26-year-old son as "a guest among brothers of ours in Syria Islamic State" and pleaded for his release.

"I direct a message to our generous brothers of the Islamic State in Syria to host my son... with generous hospitality," he said.

"We are all Muslims," he added.

Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain are all lending pilots and aircraft to the ongoing fight against the Islamic State in northern Iraq and Syria.

As The Associated Press notes, ISIS "has executed captured Iraqi and Syrian Muslim soldiers in the past."

According to the AP:

"The pilot is the first known military member to be captured from the international coalition that has been waging a bombing campaign against the Islamic State group for months, trying to break its control over territory stretching across Syria and Iraq."

"After the crash, al-Kaseasbeh was pulled by gunmen from a body of water and hustled away, according to photos published by the Raqqa Media Center, which operates in areas under IS control. He appeared to be able to walk and the only visible injury was what appeared to be a spot of blood at his mouth."

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.