You don’t need a hard-hitting behind the scenes indie direct-to-Netflix documentary expose to know that ISIS is pretty much the most horrible thing since the series finale of Battlestar Galactica. In a lot of ways these guys are like the perfect villains for our time and place, because ISIS is to Muslims what the Nazis are to modern-day Germans – even the people they’re supposed to be fighting for hate their guts with the unrivaled fury of a thousand burning intergalactic supernovas. They’re like the villain in a movie who is so insanely over-the-top evil that you’re sitting there watching the movie rolling your eyes because it’s like “I get it this guy is evil I don’t need to see him kick the hero’s pet terrier for another twenty minutes”. They decapitate civilians in the street, throw POWs off buildings, behead journalists, employ child soldiers, and sell women into sexual slavery, then post the entire thing on Jihad MySpace with SEO clickbait titles like “The 10 Most Awesome Ways to Horrifically Execute Infidels – You Won’t Believe Number Seven!” just to troll everyone who doesn’t think it’s totally rad to throw a punch of unarmed people in a hole and then hose them down with an AK-47. They torture minorities, bulldoze priceless ancient Persian and Babylonian archaeological research sites, and wear black after Labor Day. Are you thinking you might want to go to Syria to help alleviate the brutal realities of war among the populace by providing food and warm clothing to starving underprivileged homeless children? They’ll kidnap you and saw your head off with a pocketknife live on their Twitch channel. Got a problem with that being the official decree of some random self-appointed Caliph who preaches a psychotic radical doctrine that goes against everything you know about your own religion? Well now you’re no longer a Muslim, you’re a heretic, which is punishable by death.
The United Nations has declared them a terrorist organization. Amnesty International accused them of crimes against humanity. Israel and Saudi Arabia are bizarrely in agreement that ISIS sucks. So are Serbia and Albania. So are the USA and Russia. Even the Taliban and Al-Qaeda are at war with these guys. In fact, the only people who have shown them even the slightest bit of public support are the Boko Haram in Nigeria, and only then presumably because both organizations are in agreement that it’s really fun to punch semi-literate ten year old girls in the face and then try and turn them into suicide bombers.
At the forefront of the battle against ISIS are the heroic people of Jordan – a powerful, determined nation that has somehow managed to survive the modern Middle East despite sharing borders with Syria, Iraq, and the Gaza Strip. While most Jordanians oppose ISIS, they’ve been more or less split down the middle on whether or not they should get themselves involved with a horrifically brutal war in Syria, which makes sense to me. They’ve been great about taking in nearly a million Syrian (and Iraqi) refugees over the past few years, though, and with the war starting to threaten Jordan’s borders the government decided to launch a few airstrikes against ISIS targets and defend their country. Well, on December 24th of last year, one of their F-16s went down over the ISIS capital in Raqqah, Syria. The pilot ejected, landed in a river, and First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh was captured by ISIS.
Jordan temporarily halted airstrikes and attempted to negotiate the POW’s release. ISIS wanted to trade him for a woman who had been imprisoned by Jordan for being part of a suicide bomb plot that killed 60 people in Amman in 2005. Jordan couldn’t make that trade, so ISIS locked their prisoner of war up in an animal cage, burned him alive, and posted the video of it online.
Well, it turns out you shouldn’t mess with King Abdullah II of Jordan.
King Abdullah II is 53 years old, and has spent 35 years of his life in the military. He’s a trained Cobra attack helicopter pilot, an armored warfare tank commander, a graduate of the British Military Academy, and the founder of Jordan’s Special Operations Command unit of elite counter-terrorism commandos. He’s performed hundreds of drops as a front-line paratrooper, collects ancient military weaponry, takes princesses skydiving in his spare time, has won a couple international Rally Car races, and once went dynamite fishing with Uday and Qusay Hussein just for the fun of it.
The King was in Washington, DC, attending a meeting with a U.S. Marine when he received word that his pilot had been brutally executed in cold blood. According to the Marine, King Abdullah of Jordan immediately launched into Clint Eastwood’s badass “I’m gonna kill his wife and burn his house down” speech from Unforgiven, then told the guy the only concern he has with the epic torrent of destruction that’s about to happen is that he might run out of fuel and bullets in the process.
There aren’t many Kings out there that possess the knowledge, skill, and epic timing to break out Clint Eastwood quotes in moments such as these, then follow it up by posting a picture of you looking like a hardass in full military fatigues on your Official Facebook Page while swearing vengeance. But these are the Kings you want overseeing your country.
King Abdullah promised to make it rain horrible death in the general vicinity of all things terrorist-related, vowing to his people that “our response will be on the level of disaster.” His first action was to take that prisoner ISIS wanted and have her publicly hanged. Then he hung some other prisoner who was also arrested for plotting to bring ISIS to Jordan. Then he went to the home of the murdered pilot, personally consoled the family, and promised them he would avenge their son for his sacrifice.
Initial reports out of Jordan claimed that when the first (of many) flights of F-16 attack aircraft streaked over the skies of ISIS’s capital that night, laying out a carpet of high-explosive ordinance directly up the urethra of the terrorists’ leadership, King Abdullah II was flying the lead aircraft. Jordan has officially denied this. Which is what they would have to do even if it were true.
A member of the Hashemite Dynasty, the traditional guardians of Mecca and Medina, King Abdullah has been genetically confirmed as a 41st-level direct descendent of the Prophet Muhammad. He graduated the UK Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst, served as a Second Lieutenant of the 13/18th Royal Hussars Cavalry Regiment in Northern Ireland, flew Cobra helicopters in North Africa, became a Lieutenant Colonel in the Jordanian Third Armored Division, and then ultimately was appointed Commanding Officer of the Jordanian Special Forces in 1993. Abdullah’s forward-thinking policies and commitment to “quality over quantity” led him to completely reorganize the unit into a unit that is now universally recognized as the most over-the-top hardcore special operations unit the Arab countries have to offer. These guys are trained in counter-terrorism, reconnaissance, interrogation, and close-quarter combat in urban environments, can deploy anywhere in the Middle East at a moment’s notice, spend their summers in the USA training with Rangers and SEALs, and operate deep behind enemy lines for extended periods with little to no support. They are also believed to have agents who have infiltrated at all levels at ISIS, and their operatives proved a ton of vital information on what the hell is going on over there.
Here’s what these guys look like in action. Just remember that they weren’t much to look at before Abdullah showed up on the scene.
So when King Abdullah II of Jordan says he’s going to “open the gates of Hell on them,” this is what he’s working with. He immediately ordered 50+ airstrike missions to hammer ISIS positions non-stop for the next several weeks, then had his PR folks make it into a music video showing the men and women of his military (and implementing women into combat arms was a highly-progressive move initiated by the King himself) kicking some serious air-to-ground butts.
From a political standpoint, the King has provided the third-most troops to international United Nations peacekeeping operations, once again illustrating that he rocks the fine line between “kicking nutsacks up and down the Middle East” and “being a totally chill dude who will come to your aid when you need him”. Jordanian soldiers have helped stabilize the situation during the Yugoslavian Wars, set up medical facilities in Afghanistan and the Congo, dispersed aid after the natural disasters in Indonesia and Haiti, and ran a neutral field hospital during the Gaza Strip war. They’ve trained women MP soldiers in Iraq, helped Libyan rebels transform into an organized police force, and run refugee operations during the Syrian Civil War.
Yet, despite all that, the thing that actually impressed me the most about this guy is that he drives his own car when he goes places and doesn’t get chauffeured around by some chump who can’t handle a car as well as he can. There should be more world leaders out there who don’t have a problem doing things themselves – whether it’s navigating a Suburban or dropping JDAMs on terrorists.