The Islamic State group has released a message purportedly by Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, extending the deadline for Jordan’s release of an Iraqi would-be hotel bomber linked to al-Qaida.
The audio recording, in English, said the Jordanians must present Sajida al-Rishawi at the Turkish border by sunset Thursday, or Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh will be killed.
The recording, distributed on Twitter by ISIL-affiliated accounts, appeared to be more rushed than two previous ones purportedly from Goto, which showed a photo of him along with the audio recording.
Thursday’s recording contained only the audio, with an image of Arabic text that was an exact translation of the statement.
The Associated Press could not independently verify the contents of the recording.
Earlier on Wednesday Jordan said it was willing to swap al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman prisoner involved in deadly 2005 hotel bombings for a Jordanian pilot captured in Dec. 2014 by ISIL, a government spokesman said.
CCTV America’s Nathan King reported this story.
ISIL extends deadline for Jordanian prisoner swap for pilotThe Islamic State group has released a message purportedly by Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, extending the deadline for Jordan's release of an Iraqi would-be hotel bomber linked to al-Qaida. CCTV America's Nathan King reported this story.
Such a swap would run counter to Jordan’s hardline approach against negotiating with extremists from the Islamic State, who in the past have not publicly demanded prisoner releases.
However, Jordan’s government faces domestic pressure to bring the pilot home, while its participation in a U.S.-led military coalition against the Islamic State is widely unpopular among Jordanians.
The government spokesman, Mohammed al-Momani, did not say whether a swap would actually take place. He also made no mention of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, who is also being held by the extremists.
Efforts to release the pilot and the journalist gained urgency with the release late Tuesday of a purported online ultimatum claiming the Islamic State group would kill both hostages within 24 hours if the Iraqi woman was not freed.
The pilot’s father met with Jordan’s king who assured him “everything will be fine.” The terrorist group had given a 24-hour deadline and threatened to kill the pilot and a Japanese journalist.
Al-Kasasbeh was captured in Dec. 2014 after ejecting from his plane over Syria. His case has become one of national pride. Jordan is one of only four Arab countries participating in airstrikes against ISIL.
On Wednesday, al-Momani said that “Jordan is ready to release the Iraqi prisoner, Sajida al-Rishawi, if the Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, is released unharmed.” His comments were carried by Jordan’s official Petra news agency.
Al-Rishawi was sentenced to death in Jordan for her involvement in a 2005 al-Qaida attack on hotels in Amman that killed 60 people. She wore a suicide vest that failed to detonate while her husband’s vest did explode, and killed 57 people. She’s from Anbar province in Iraq, where ISIL is now exerting its influence. She claims to have carried out other attacks to avenge the killing of her three brothers by U.S. troops. Her release would be a major propaganda coup for the Islamic State group.
Jordan is reportedly in indirect talks with the militants through religious and tribal leaders in Iraq to secure the hostages’ release. Authorities knew time was running out for the Jordanian and Japanese hostages after Goto was shown holding a picture of the pilot along with an audio statement purportedly by Goto.
In that statement, he said that if convicted al-Qaida terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi was not released, the pilot would be killed and Goto would be next.
In Tokyo, Kenji Goto’s 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.
In Japan, vigils are being held for Goto- a respected journalist. It’s unclear that if this prisoner swap goes ahead, will it also include the release of Goto. Last week, another Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa was beheaded by ISIL.
Report complied with information from CCTV America and AP reports