Amman, Feb 4: The killing of Jordanian pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh and then the execution of Sajida Al-Rishwai have raised many questions. The biggest question that needs to be asked is how serious was the ISIS about the release of Sajida who they call as sister?
The demand made by the ISIS to free Sajida, the suicide bomber who was arrested in connection with the bombing of a hotel in Jordan was more political in nature. An attempt to mobilize all the Sunni Muslims into their fold and also a message to aspiring jihadis and also the Al-Qaeda that the ISIS is the only organization that fights, protects and speaks up for the Sunni Muslims.
The political message:
The ISIS has gone beyond being just a terrorist outfit. What they are aiming at is a full fledged army with people from across the world. They are constantly trying to gain trust from the fighters from across the world and hence this message that they care about their people is being sent.
In addition to this message, the ISIS also wanted to show the world that they are only ones who can protect the Sunnis. Sajida hailed from the important Anbar province in Iraq and belonged to the Abu Risha tribe, which has a great deal of influence of the Sunni population.
The ISIS, which has made this war largely about Sunni vs Shia was also attempting to show that they are the ultimate protectors of the Sunni population. "You may not protect the Sunnis, but we will," is the larger message that the ISIS sought to send in the Sajida case.
An influential member:
Sajida, without a doubt was a very influential person for the ISIS. For Abu-Bakr Al-Bhagdadi her release would have been a political victory. The fact that Sajida was 60 and not capable of real combat was not the question here for Bhagdadi.
Bhagdadi along with Abu Zarqawi who is not just Sajida's brother but also Bhagdadi's closest aide had decided to make this a political issue. The message was really aimed at uniting all the Sunnis across the world and telling them that the ISIS is their only protector.
If one analysis the recent address of Bhagdadi on a video shot at Mosul, the message becomes louder and clearer. He had made it amply clear that he had to win Sajida's freedom. He refers to her as sister and constantly tries to tell the Jordanian authorities that he is out to protect not just her but the entire Sunni population.
A message to the Al-Qaeda:
The seeking of Sajida's release is also a message to the Al-Qaeda which may be down, but is still a rival to the ISIS. Here one needs to listen in to the speech that was made by Zarqawi where he constantly drives the Sunni point across.
Whoever releases Sajida is doing the job of Zarqawi he says. He also states that whoever releases her will also win the respect of all the jihadis who are loyal to him. This statement by Zarqawi who was a former Al-Qaeda member is interesting and it implies that he is trying to woo over the Al-Qaeda tribe into his fold with this political messge.
The Al-Qaeda and the ISIS have their own share of Sunni Muslims in their fold. The attempt is to win over the entire lot and hence the Sajida issue was raked in such a big manner. All through the ISIS knew that they were not getting Sajida released, but they did manage to put across the message that they will stand up to their Sunni brothers and sisters no matter what.