In the aftermath of the broadcast of video footage that appeared to show pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh being set on fire as he stood in a cage, Jordan had promised a swift and “earth-shaking” response and said it would move to execute several militants it was holding.
Early on Wednesday morning local time, Jordanian state television reported that two prisoners had been executed before dawn. One of them was said to be Sajida al-Rishawi, the Iraqi woman militant who was sentenced to death for her role in a 2005 suicide bombing in Amman that killed 60 people.
The other was said to be Ziad Karbouli, a former aide to the deceased leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, according to reports from Jordan,
Jordan had sought to swap the woman prisoner for the captured pilot. Isis had demanded her release in exchange for the life of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, Reuters reported. However, Mr Goto, a veteran war reporter, was later beheaded by the group, with images of his death released in a video on Saturday.
After footage of the killing of 26-year-old Mr Kasaesbeh emerged, Jordan had promised a swift response. Jordan had been launching air strike against Isis targets in Syria as part of the US-led alliance
“The revenge will be as big as the calamity that has hit Jordan,“ army spokesman Colonel Mamdouh al Ameri said in a televised statement confirming the death of the pilot, who had been seized in December.
The news agency said that the fate of Mr Kasaesbeh, a member of a large tribe that forms the backbone of support for the country’s Hashemite monarchy, has gripped Jordan for weeks and some Jordanians have criticised King Abdullah for embroiling them in the US-led war that they said would provoke a backlash by militants.
The escalation of developments came as the king cut short a visit to the United States to return home following word of Mr Kasaesbeh's death. In a televised statement, he said the pilot's killing was an act of “cowardly terror” by a deviant group that had no relation to Islam.
By Andrew Buncombe