TIME Terrorism

Free Speech Debate ‘Still Alive’ After Attack in Denmark

Shooting At Free Speech Event in Copenhagen
Lars Ronbog—Getty Images A victim is carried into an ambulance after a shooting at a public meeting and discussion arranged by the Lars Vilks Committee about Charlie Hebdo and freedom of speech on Feb. 14, 2015 in Copenhagen.

“Still alive in the room.”

As gunfire erupted outside a Copenhagen cultural center on Saturday afternoon, French ambassador François Zimeray tweeted that message to the world.

The message conveys some of the terror that Zimeray and other participants in a panel discussion on freedom of speech must have felt. But the presence of mind that it took to send contains an even more chilling suggestion: no longer are such violent crimes unexpected.

Although Danish authorities have not detained the perpetrator or established his motives, all evidence suggests that the Feb. 14 attack, like that at the Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, and like several attempted attacks in Denmark before that, was motivated by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Soon after 3:30 p.m., a gunman (authorities originally said there were two, but later revised the figure) wearing a maroon baklava and armed with an automatic weapon tried to shoot his way into the café at Krudttoenden, a cultural center in eastern Copenhagen, where a discussion entitled “Art, Blasphemy, and Freedom of Expression,” was underway.

He was prevented from entering by police, but not before he fired dozens of shots, killing a 40-year-old man, and injuring three officers. For Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who was attending the panel discussion, there was no doubt about who the intended target was: himself. After publishing a cartoon in 2007 that depicted the Prophet Muhammad as a dog, Vilks had a $100,000 bounty placed on his head by the then-leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and has been the object of several assassination attacks.

“What other motive could there be?” he told the Associated Press.

The Danish prime minister identified the attack as terrorism and put the nation on high alert. Police have set up controls around major transit hubs to prevent the perpetrator, who escaped the crime scene by hijacking a VW Polo, from leaving the country. Just after 1 a.m. on Feb. 15, a second shooting took place, this one at Copenhagen’s main synagogue. According to police, one person was shot in the head and two police officers were wounded, but they have not yet determined whether this attack is related to the earlier one. The suspect in the synagogue shooting fled on foot.

“We must end this as soon as possible, because we must not get into a situation like the one we saw in Paris, where they took hostages, ” Hans Jorgen Bonnichsen, chief of operations for the Danish intelligence service PET, told the Danish newspaper Berlingske.

He wasn’t the only one with the Charlie Hebdo attacks in mind. In January, Islamist extremists angered by the satirical magazine’s publication of its own Muhammad cartoons entered its offices and killed 12. “After Charlie Hebdo happened, it was obvious that other people could be inspired by it to do the same thing,” says Lars Erslev Andersen, senior researcher in international security at the Danish Institute for International Studies. “At the same time, one of the reactions was for other media to publish the cartoons [in solidarity]. So on both sides we see the confrontation heating up.”

It may be heating up, but its roots go far back. In 2005, the country’s biggest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, commissioned and published the original Muhammad cartoons. Many Muslims around the globe were outraged, and protests—some of them violent—broke out around the world. Editors and cartoonists at the paper began receiving death threats. In 2008, a thwarted assassination attempt against the cartoonist Kurt Westergaard prompted 17 other Danish newspapers to publish the cartoons themselves.

Denmark has a strong tradition of free speech, and for many in the largely secular country, publishing the cartoons was a way to defend the nation’s key values. But for others, they were a needless provocation. “What we found is that in many instances we don’t have support,” says Flemming Rose, former foreign editor of Jyllands-Posten and author of Tyranny of Silence, about the effects of the cartoon affair. “We’ve been confronted with ‘Maybe it’s your own fault. If you publish that, you’re asking for violence.’”

In the wake of threats and attempted attacks, Jyllands-Posten dramatically increased security for its building and its employees. That may have played a role in the decision to attack Krudttoenden, says terrorism expert Magnus Ranstorp, who advises the city of Copenhagen on how to curb radicalization among its Muslim youth. “Jyllands-Posten is one of the best protected buildings in the country. But when you tighten security around particular targets, you’re going to have displacement onto more vulnerable ones.”

More pertinent, however, is the cartoons’ continued traction, even a decade after the original ones were published. “Extremists are not stupid, that’s why they keep on targeting this,” says Ranstorp. “They know how the cartoons resonate in the broader community, and they can use the issue to seek legitimacy and mobilize support. Thousands protested in 2005, when the cartoons first came out, and since then, it’s kept on coming.”

That resonance is unlikely to decrease anytime soon, with extremism increasing throughout Europe. More than 110 Danes who have gone to Syria or Iraq to fight with ISIS, which is itself reviving the anti-cartoon campaign. “Although the cartoon affair never died on jihadi websites, it had mostly disappeared from the Muslim mainstream,” says Erslev Andersen. “The strange thing is that the drawings pop up again with the Islamic State. A new war on terrorism started in August 2014, and it’s as if this old conflict was woken up by it.”

If the perpetrator of the Copenhagen shooting proves to have carried out the attack for those motives, it will no doubt prompt more media to publish the cartoons in defiance, and the embattled cycle of free speech and religious belief will continue. After the Charlie Hebdo attacks, Jyllands-Posten did not join other Danish newspapers in republishing the French magazine’s cartoons (“We have lived with the fear of a terrorist attack for nine years, and yes, that is the explanation why we are not reprinting the cartoons,” the newspaper explained in an editorial. “We are also aware that we are therefore bowing to violence and intimidation.”).

But not all supporters of free speech will be silenced. As police swept the building for suspects on Saturday’s attack, attendees at the Art, Blasphemy and Free Expression panel continued their discussion. “We couldn’t go anywhere,” organizer Helle Merete Brix told Berlingske, “so we just kept debating.”

TIME Terrorism

Deadly Shooting Kills 1 at Copenhagen Free Speech Event

DENMARK SHOOTING
Kenneth Meyer—AP An armed security officer runs down a street near a venue after shots were fired where an event titled "Art, blasphemy and the freedom of expression" was being held in Copenhagen, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.

Cartoonist who has drawn Muhammad was in attendance

One person is dead after shots were fired at a cafe in Copenhagen on Saturday that hosted an event organized by a Swedish cartoonist who has received death threats of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, according to media reports.

MORE: Pakistanis Protest Charlie Hebdo Cover

According to the Associated Press and Reuters, Danish police say that one civilian was killed and three police officers were injured during the event titled “Art, Blasphemy and the Freedom of Expression.”

The cartoonist, Lars Vilks, has been the subject of numerous death threats over the years, primarily over a cartoon he drew in 2007 depicting Muhammad with the body of a dog. Some branches of Islam prohibit any likeness of Muhammad.

MORE: Turkey Censors Facebook Pages That ‘Insult’ the Prophet Muhammad

According to multiple media reports, gunmen fired numerous shots into the cafe and then drove away from the scene.

The incident follows the attack inside the offices of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo in January, which killed 12 people.

TIME Pakistan

Witness the Aftermath of the Terror Attack on a Shi’ite Peshawar Mosque

At least 19 people were killed in the latest sectarian attack in Pakistan

The terror-worn city of Peshawar was struck by a new terror attack targeting a Shi’ite mosque on Friday that left at least 19 people dead.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Reuters, saying it was in revenge for the government’s crackdown on Islamist militants in the wake of the Dec. 16 assault on a Peshawar school that killed more than 150 people, mostly students. The Taliban, who have also claimed responsibility for the assault on the school, threatened more “revenge attacks” in a video sent to reporters, according to Reuters.

On Friday, five or six gunmen wearing military uniforms broke into the mosque as Friday prayers finished and opened fire, a witness told Reuters. Three explosions were heard during the attack.

The Pakistani government pledged to combat Islamist groups in the wake of the school attacks, but minority groups throughout the country say they still feel insecure. An attack last month on a Shi’ite mosque in Shikarpur killed more than 60 people.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: February 11

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. Syria’s own ‘Monuments Men’ are trying to stop antiquities from becoming looted to finance terrorism.

By Joe Parkinson, Ayla Albayrak and Duncan Mavin in the Wall Street Journal

2. Scientists have combined a bionic leaf with a bioengineered bacteria to convert solar energy into liquid fuel.

By Elizabeth Cooney at Harvard Medical School

3. A dozen states are using a smart data center to keep voter information up to date. Meet ERIC.

By the Pew Charitable Trusts on YouTube

4. Deciding to embrace big data is a lot easier than changing your culture to use it well.

By Matt Asay in ReadWrite

5. Fighting malaria is going to take more than just nets.

By Utibe Effiong and Lauretta Ovadje with Andrew Maynard in the Conversation

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Australia

An ISIS-Inspired Terrorist Plot Has Been Foiled, Say Australian Police

Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan (R) listens as New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn speaks during a media conference in Sydney February 11, 2015
Lincoln Feast—Reuters Australian Federal Police Deputy Commissioner Michael Phelan, right, listens as New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn speaks during a media conference in Sydney on Feb. 11, 2015

Two men were arrested with a machete and an ISIS flag

Australian counterterrorism officials say they have foiled an imminent terrorist attack after the arrest of two men at a house in western Sydney.

The suspects have been charged with terrorist offenses, Reuters reports.

Police say a homemade ISIS flag was found at the house, as well as a machete, a hunting knife and “a video which depicted a man talking about carrying out an attack.”

New South Wales Deputy Police Commissioner Catherine Burn accused the suspects of “preparing to do this act yesterday.”

Australia’s national threat level has been on “high” since last September, when news broke out that militants were planning to publicly behead a random member of the public.

The country is also concerned with homegrown militancy. Dozens of its citizens are said to be fighting for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and last December a gunman with ISIS sympathies held up a central Sydney café, leading to the death of two hostages.

[Reuters]

TIME National Security

Kayla Mueller’s Death: Focusing on Names, Not Numbers

Kayla Mueller, 26, an American humanitarian worker from Prescott, Ariz.
Mueller Family—Reuters Kayla Mueller, 26, an American humanitarian worker from Prescott, Ariz.

As war evolves, U.S. attention shifts to individual losses

There is nothing sadder than the loss of a child. American parents reflexively choked up Tuesday after the White House confirmed the death of Kayla Mueller, 26, who had been held hostage by Islamic terrorists in Syria since August 2013.

Details of her death were scant. A White House aide said her captors, belonging to the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria, had provided information to the Mueller family, which led the U.S. intelligence community to confirm she had perished. ISIS claimed she had been killed in a Jordanian air strikes last week launched in retaliation for ISIS burning captured Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh to death.

While some intelligence sources expressed skepticism she was killed by a Jordanian bomb, it makes little difference. Mueller was there because people were dying, and she wanted to help. “For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal,” she told her hometown paper in Prescott, Ariz., before she was captured. “It’s important to stop and realize what we have, why we have it and how privileged we are. And from that place, start caring and get a lot done.”

Just like millions of Americans in uniform following 9/11, she volunteered to serve in a war zone, and ended up paying the ultimate price.

Unlike the nearly 7,000 of them, though, there has been intense media focus on her fate since ISIS said she was said she had been killed and her name surfaced, after her family and the U.S. government had kept it secret for 18 months.

There is nothing wrong with that. Individual stories from the war zones—whether that of Jason Dunham, James Foley, Salvatore Giunta, Peter Kassig, Chris Kyle, Steven Sotloff or Pat Tillman—allow us to focus on individual acts. That can shed light on what the nation is doing there, and the progress it is making. Tallying individuals’ sacrifice can lead us to conclude, perhaps in a way raw numbers cannot, whether the effort is worth it.

But, in the same way, raw numbers pack their own kind of punch. Their toll instructs us in how war has changed in our hyper-connected, 24/7 world, and how much, and how willingly, the nation used to sacrifice its young.

An estimated 19,000 Americans died in World War II’s month-long Battle of the Bulge. Storming Normandy cost 16,000 U.S. troops their lives. Gettysburg killed 7,000, on both sides. Korea’s battle of Pusan killed 4,600 Americans. On Sept. 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 people were killed by al Qaeda terrorists, including more than 2,600 Americans. In Vietnam, the Battle of Khe Sanh left more than 700 U.S. troops dead. The Taliban shot down a U.S. Army helicopter in Afghanistan in 2011, killing 30 American troops.

Such numbers have been trending downward. Perhaps we focus on individuals because, thankfully for Americans, our casualties—both military and civilian—in our post-9/11 wars have been historically modest. That doesn’t ease the pain for individual families, of course, but it does mean far fewer families are enduring such anguish.

TIME Terrorism

U.S. Confirms Death of American Held By ISIS

Kayla Mueller, 26, an American humanitarian worker from Prescott, Ariz.
Mueller Family—Reuters Kayla Mueller, 26, an American humanitarian worker from Prescott, Ariz.

Kayla Jean Mueller had been held hostage since 2013

An American aid worker that the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) said was killed in a Jordanian airstrike has indeed died, officials and her family confirmed Tuesday.

“We are heartbroken to share we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller has lost her life,” her parents Carl and Marsha Mueller said in a statement.

Mueller’s parents had been holding out hope that she was alive after ISIS, which had held her hostage since 2013, said she was killed during a Jordanian airstrike against the group last week. Neither her family nor U.S. officials said whether Mueller was killed in the airstrike as ISIS claimed, only that she is dead.

“Kayla represents what is best about America, and expressed her deep pride in the freedoms that we Americans enjoy, and that so many others strive for around the world,” President Barack Obama said in a statement. “Kayla Mueller used these freedoms she so cherished to improve the lives of others. In how she lived her life, she epitomized all that is good in our world. ”

Obama said the United States will “find and bring justice to the terrorists” responsible for her death, “no matter how long it takes.”

Read next: Obama Faces Challenge in Congress on ISIS War Powers

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Military

The U.S. ‘Goldilocks’ Strategy Toward ISIS

F16 fighter jets from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) arrive at an air base in Jordan
Petra Petra / Reuters F-16 fighters from the United Arab Emirates arrived at an air base in Jordan over the weekend, ready to attack ISIS targets.

The Islamic State wants the Pentagon to step up its fight

President Obama is tiptoeing carefully through the minefield that is the Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. So far, he has been surefooted, if tentative. But one false step could mortally wound the final two years of his time in office.

He knows it, the Pentagon knows it—and you can bet that ISIS knows it. The challenge is to make sure the American public knows it, if ISIS becomes even more depraved (which is admittedly hard to believe).

Last week featured ISIS’s brutality on display, first with the release of a video purporting to show the murder by fire of Jordanian 1st Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, and then with the claim that U.S. hostage Kayla Mueller had been killed by Jordanian bombs dropped by Amman’s F-16s in retaliation for the Jordanian F-16 pilot’s killing.

Jordan has stepped up its bombing of ISIS targets since the militants killed the pilot, reporting 56 air raids in three days. The United Arab Emirates, which had suspended its air strikes following al-Kasasbeh’s capture, has deployed warplanes to Jordan following his murder. ISIS’s brutality has “galvanized the coalition, unified the coalition,” retired Marine general John Allen, now the Obama Administration’s anti-ISIS chief, told ABC’s This Week on Sunday.

But what if the murdered pilot had been an American?

The anti-ISIS fervor that has gripped Jordan since the video’s release would pale alongside congressional denunciations of Obama’s steady-as-she-goes policy to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. Cable-news commentators would crank up the heat demanding retribution.

As satisfying as such rants might be, they play into ISIS’s hands. “If we want to fight terrorism effectively we must realize that nothing the terrorists do can defeat us,” Yuval Noah Harari, a historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, wrote over the weekend in Britain’s Guardian newspaper. “We are the only ones who can defeat ourselves, if we overreact in a misguided way to terrorist provocations.”

That’s the trap ISIS has set for Washington. Given the white-hot rhetoric that Republicans regularly hurl at Obama, it could work. “Too often, what’s missing here in Washington is a sense of perspective,” Susan Rice, the national security adviser, said Friday. The threat ISIS and groups like it pose “are not of the existential nature we confronted during World War II or during the Cold War,” she said. “We cannot afford to be buffeted by alarmism in a nearly instantaneous news cycle.”

Rice said the U.S.-led alliance has “taken out thousands of [ISIS’s] fighters, destroyed nearly 200 oil and gas facilities that fund their terror, and pushed them out of territory, including areas around Baghdad, Sinjar, and the Mosul Dam.”

Obama is pursuing what might be called a “Goldilocks” strategy against ISIS — not too hot, and not too cold. He’s ordered air strikes, which has upset some of his fellow Democrats. But he has refrained from expanding the U.S. role, which has distressed some Republicans. He seems dedicated to the dicey proposition of limiting the U.S. to a supporting player (although it has conducted 81% of the air strikes), and letting Iraqis and Syrians take the lead in the battle on the ground against the barbarians who have seized much of their nations. “We can’t police a region that won’t police itself,” Senator Tim Kaine, D-Va., told CNN Sunday.

In 2001, the Pentagon was fully on board when President George W. Bush decided to invade Afghanistan for the shelter its Taliban government provided al Qaeda, which launched the 9/11 attacks. But U.S. military officers were far more skeptical of the need to invade Iraq two years later.

Now, 12 years after the Iraq invasion, there is an abiding skepticism inside the Pentagon about deeper U.S. involvement in its six-month war against ISIS. Few want it expanded into a third major U.S.-led war in the region. But their leeriness is tempered by not wanting the sacrifice of 4,486 American lives in the 2003 Iraq war to have been wasted. Many of them, of course, weren’t yet alive when Vietnam should have purged that urge for waging war nearly a half-century ago.

TIME Terrorism

ISIS Hostage’s Family Hopeful She’s Still Alive

Kayla Mueller after speaking to a group in Prescott, Ariz. on May 30, 2013.
Matt Hinshaw—AP Kayla Mueller after speaking to a group in Prescott, Ariz. on May 30, 2013.

"The common thread of Kayla's life has been her quiet leadership and strong desire to serve others," her family says

(PRESCOTT, Arizona) — The parents of a 26-year-old American who Islamic State extremists say was killed in an airstrike in Syria said in a statement addressed to group leaders that the claim of their daughter’s death concerned them but they were still hopeful she was alive.

The Islamic State group said on Friday that Kayla Jean Mueller of Prescott, Arizona, died in a Jordanian airstrike, but the government of Jordan dismissed the statement as “criminal propaganda,” and the U.S. said it had not seen any evidence to corroborate the report.

Mueller is the only known remaining U.S. hostage held by the Islamic State group.

If the death is confirmed, she would be the fourth American to die while being held by Islamic State militants. Three others — journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig — were beheaded by the group.

“You told us that you treated Kayla as your guest, as your guest her safety and well-being remains your responsibility,” Mueller’s family said in a short statement released Friday.

Mueller is an aid worker who previously volunteered with organizations in India, Israel and the Palestinian territories. Her identity had not been disclosed until now out of fears for her safety. Her family said she was taken hostage by the Islamic State group on Aug. 4, 2013, while leaving a hospital in Syria.

“The common thread of Kayla’s life has been her quiet leadership and strong desire to serve others,” Mueller’s family said.

Jordan has been launching airstrikes against the extremist group in response to a video released this week that shows captive Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh being burned to death in a cage.

Al-Kaseasbeh, whose F-16 came down in December while conducting airstrikes as part of a campaign against the militants by a U.S.-led coalition, was believed to have been killed in early January.

The Islamic State group said in a statement Mueller was killed in the militants’ stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria during midday prayers in airstrikes that targeted “the same location for more than an hour.”

It published photos purportedly of the bombed site, showing a severely damaged three-story building, but offered no proof or images of Mueller.

The statement said no Islamic State militants were killed in the airstrikes, raising further questions about the veracity of the claim.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said it was investigating.

“But as a first reaction, we think it’s illogical and we are highly skeptical about it. How could they identify a Jordanian warplane … in the sky? What was the American lady doing in a weapons warehouse?” al-Momani said.

“It’s part of their criminal propaganda. They have lied that our pilot is alive and tried to negotiate, claiming he is alive while they had killed him weeks before,” he added.

American officials said they also were looking into the report.

Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council, said the White House has “not at this time seen any evidence that corroborates” the claim.

“We are obviously deeply concerned by these reports,” she added.

A U.S. official said coalition aircraft did conduct bombing near Raqqa on Friday, but he had nothing to confirm the claim that the American captive was killed in the airstrike. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the issue with reporters.

Mueller had been working in Turkey assisting Syrian refugees, according to a 2013 article in The Daily Courier, her hometown newspaper. She told the paper that she was drawn to help with the situation in Syria.

“For as long as I live, I will not let this suffering be normal,” she said. “It’s important to stop and realize what we have, why we have it and how privileged we are. And from that place, start caring and get a lot done.”

According to the newspaper, Mueller had been working with the humanitarian aid agency Support to Life, as well as a local organization that helped female Syrian refugees develop skills.

Nicolas Henin, a French journalist held hostage for months by extremists in Syria, wrote in a message on Twitter Friday: “Kayla Mueller was among the very last of my former cellmates still detained. I was full of hope she could have a way out.”

Henin was held for a time with Foley and Sotloff. He was released in April with other French journalists who had been held since June 2013.

On Sunday, Obama said the U.S. was “deploying all the assets that we can” to find Mueller.

“We are in very close contact with the family trying to keep them updated,” he said in an interview with NBC’s “Today” show. “Obviously this is something that is heartbreaking for the family, and we want to make sure we do anything we can to make sure that any American citizen is rescued from this situation.”

The Jordanian government said dozens of its fighter jets had bombed Islamic State training centers and weapons storage sites.

Activists who monitor the Syrian conflict from inside the country said coalition planes hit several targets on the edges and outskirts of Raqqa in quick succession Friday.

A Raqqa-based collective of anti-IS activists known as “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” said the planes targeted multiple IS positions and headquarters in the western and eastern countryside of Raqqa, sending up columns of smoke. Explosions could be heard in the city.

The collective said 47 Islamic State group members were killed. It was not clear how the activists obtained the information, which could not be independently verified.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights also said “dozens” of IS members were killed in coalition airstrikes that targeted a tank and vehicle depot in the area of al-Madajen and at least six other IS positions, including a training camp and a prison.

The Raqqa-based activists and the Observatory both said coalition airstrikes on Raqqa resumed on Saturday, with explosions shaking an IS headquarters known as Division 17 in the city’s northern countryside and an IS camp known as al-Saeqa to the West.

TIME Military

The Power of Vengeance

Airmen share language of aviation during Eager Lion 2014
U.S. Air Force Up to 20 Royal Jordanian Air Force F-16s like this one attacked ISIS targets on Thursday, reportedly killing 55 militants.

The immolation of Jordan’s F-16 pilot bolsters the fight against ISIS

Military planners often try to wring emotions out of their war-fighting schemes. Unlike hardware and Presidential orders, they can be ephemeral and transitory.

But as Jordanian reaction to the Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria’s brutal murder of 1st Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh makes clear, sometimes such visceral reactions are tantamount to sending reinforcements into the fight.

“Revenge is a uniquely human emotion, and an enduring cause of war,” a 2005 U.S. Army paper noted. “There is a moral component to punitive attack.”

Amman pledged an “earth-shaking” response to the murder of their pilot, disclosed in a horrific video ISIS posted Tuesday. Unlike the Pentagon’s plodding, the Jordanians quickly hanged a pair of terrorists in their custody and began launching air strikes against ISIS targets on Thursday.

Jordan’s King Abdullah ordered the actions after ISIS released the video purportedly showing the jihadists burning the pilot alive in a cage. It seems to have driven Muslim anger against ISIS to new heights (although the United Arab Emirates, which had been bombing ISIS targets in Syria, suspended them after the capture of the Jordanian pilot and the alliance’s inability to rescue him).

The initial Jordanian air strikes Thursday reportedly killed 55 militants in and around ISIS’s self-declared capital in the Syrian town of Raqqa, including a senior commander known as the “Prince of Nineveh.” Up to 30 F-16s flew over the murdered F-16 pilot’s hometown as they returned from their mission (that represents nearly half of the F-16s flown by the Royal Jordanian Air Force).

“The blood of martyr Moaz al-Kasasbeh will not be in vain,” Abdullah said Wednesday. “The response of Jordan and its army after what happened to our dear son will be severe.” Ironically, the old adage of an “eye for an eye” is a part of Sharia law, the Islamic legal code embraced by ISIS.

Contrast the Jordanian reaction to the Pentagon’s. The U.S. military calls its campaign against ISIS Operation Inherent Resolve. It’s a term that suggests a bulwark rather than a bulldozer. Of course, as a superpower, the U.S. tends to be restrained in a way that Jordan doesn’t.

While publicly praising the role played by America’s regional allies in the fight against ISIS, there have been frequent U.S. murmurs that they could be doing more. After all, U.S. thinking goes, ISIS poses the biggest threat to its neighbors—and co-religionists—yet they have accounted for less than 15% of the air strikes against ISIS targets.

The pilot’s murder suggests ISIS may have gone too far this time. While the beheadings of five Westerners, including—including three Americans—by ISIS didn’t appear to trigger stepped-up attacks, Jordan responded quickly.

Major Brandon D. Newton wrote about vengeance in that paper for the Army’s School of Advanced Military Studies at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. In Punishment, Revenge, and Retribution: A Historical Analysis of Punitive Operations, he noted that violent retaliation may be required to deal with groups like ISIS. “Primitive, loosely structured actors or organizations may only respond to actual force,” he said, “not the threat or potential use of force.”

Beyond that, he added, retaliation is timeless. “Revenge is innate, vengeance is an eternal characteristic, and will not be marginalized by time or technology,” Newton concluded.

Read next: Jordan Launches New Airstrikes After Vowing ‘Harsh’ War on ISIS

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