Jordan’s king said U.S. President Barack Obama is correct in deciding not to characterize the Islamic State group as Islamic terrorists. King Abdullah of Jordan called the militant group “outlaws” in his first interview since ISIS burned alive the Jordanian pilot it captured last month. Abdullah said the Islamic State group perverts Islam and recruits “deluded young men and women” who believe the group “is an Islamic nation.”
“I think [Obama] is right” not to call the Islamic State group Islamic extremists, Abdullah said in an interview that aired Sunday on CNN. "This is something that has to be understood on a much larger platform. [ISIS] is looking for legitimacy [that] they have inside of Islam."
Obama has taken heat from Republicans who assert not calling ISIS members Islamic terrorists means the president does not understand the threat that the militant group presents. The Islamic State group has proclaimed the territory it occupies in Iraq and Syria as a caliphate governed by Sharia law.
Abdullah said the killing of Jordanian pilot Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, who was captured while participating in the U.S.-led coalition airstrikes against ISIS, only strengthened Jordan's commitment to fight the group. "I think if ISIS, or Daesh as we call them, try to intimidate Jordanians ... [it] just [has] the reverse effect," he said. "If you look at our history, we're a country that's used to being outgunned and outnumbered. We've always punched way above our weight. I think, if anything, Daesh has us as a tiger by the tail."
The Jordanian king said he didn’t watch footage of al-Kaseasbeh being burned alive because he said the video amounted to “propaganda” from ISIS. He said the U.S.-led coalition to combat ISIS is also Jordan’s fight. The country is bordered by Iraq and Syria, and is a moderate Muslim state.
"It is our war. It has been for a long time," Abdullah said. "These are outlaws, in a way, of Islam, the minute they set up this irresponsible caliphate to try to expand their dominion over Muslims."