Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh was captured by ISIS fighters in Syria last month. (AP Photo/Raqqa Media Center, File)
Fox News, Jan. 28, 2015
Jordan has agreed to demands from ISIS that it release a female jihadist held since 2006, in a move that could free a Jordanian pilot captured in Syria last month and possibly a Japanese journalist who pleaded for his life in a video released by the terror group on Tuesday.
Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said in a statement the nation was prepared to free Sajida al-Rishawi, who was convicted of taking part in a deadly hotel bombing, if the Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, is released unharmed. His comments were carried by Jordan’s official Petra news agency. Although he made no mention of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, a hostage audio message released by Islamic State a day earlier tied Goto’s fate to that of Al-Rishawi, as well.
Al-Rishawi was sentenced to death in Jordan for her involvement in a 2005 terrorist attack by Al Qaeda on hotels in Amman that killed 60 people. Jordan is reportedly in indirect talks with the militants through religious and tribal leaders in Iraq to secure the hostages’ release. The chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Jordan’s parliament, Bassam Al-Manasseer, has been quoted as saying that Jordan and Japan would not negotiate directly with the Islamic State group and would not free al-Rishawi for the Japanese hostage only.
Earlier Wednesday, the mother of the Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto, appealed publicly to Japan’s premier to save her son. The mother, Junko Ishido, read to reporters her plea to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, which she said she sent after both Abe and Japan’s main government spokesman declined to meet with her.
“Please save Kenji’s life,” Ishido said, begging Abe to work with the Jordanian government until the very end to try to save Goto.
“Kenji has only a little time left,” she said.
The Jordanian government is under growing pressure at home to win the release of the pilot, with his father, Safi al-Kaseasbeh, pleading with Jordan “to meet the demands” of the Islamic State group.
“All people must know, from the head of the regime to everybody else, that the safety of Mu’ath means the stability of Jordan, and the death of Mu’ath means chaos in Jordan,” he told The Associated Press as about 200 of the pilot’s relatives protested outside the prime minister’s office in Amman, chanting anti-government slogans and urging that it meet the captors’ demands.
The development came after Islamic State released a flurry of grim threats at the West, one of which included an apparent beheading of a captured Kurdish soldier. In that video, discovered by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) on Tuesday, three Islamic State fighters stand behind the kneeling Kurdish fighter as one of the extremists launches into a diatribe against the U.S. and other Western nations.