While the horrible killing, captured on video, has sparked outrage in much of Jordan, including protests in the capitol of Amman, this city — 150 miles south — remains a hotbed of support for the Islamic State.
Jordan has long had its own homegrown radical Islamists, and residents here have clashed with government troops in the past two decades over Jordan’s alliance with the United States. In recent months, there has been an outpouring of pro-Islamic State activity in the city. In September, for example, Jordanian authorities cracked down on demonstrators waving the Islamic State’s black flag.
Ma’an residents refused to publicly condone the Islamic State’s cruel execution of the pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, 26. Many feared reprisals from Jordanian officials if they spoke out against King Abdullah’s call to arms. But Muslim clerics in the city’s mosques regularly praise the Islamic State, comprised of Sunnis, for opposing Assad’s brutal regime.
“Jihad in Syria is our duty, more important at the present time than jihad in Palestine,” said Islamic State sympathizer Aub Hassan.