When ISIS put a Jordanian Air Force pilot into a cage, poured gasoline on him, set him on fire and broadcast a video of the gruesome murder on the internet in February 2015, the Jordanian government responded decisively. It hanged two jihadists affiliated with Al Qaeda and broadcast images of Jordan’s monarch, King Abdullah II, wearing military fatigues to highlight Jordan’s participation in an American-led coalition that engaged in bombing raids against the terror organization. The Jordanian press office also publicized the king’s promise to exact revenge on ISIS for the murder of the pilot, Mouath al-Kasaesbeh, via a statement that was quoted in countless outlets.
To further solidify Jordanian support for the war on ISIS (which, prior to the murder of the Jordanian pilot, had been a source of controversy in the Hashemite Kingdom), Abdullah’s wife, Queen Rania, led a rally in Amman condemning the group.
The strategy was a success. After the images of King Abdullah wearing military fatigues appeared on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, some bloggers and journalists falsely reported that the monarch had led the bombing sorties himself, and in some places, King Abdullah was declared a “badass.” The Jordanian public relations campaign successfully promoted the notion that the Hashemite Kingdom was at the forefront of the war against ISIS and jihad.