28 Jan 2015

Jordan ‘ready’ to exchange terrorist for IS captive

Jordan is willing to hand over an Iraqi woman jailed for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack if a Jordanian pilot captured by Islamic State is released, a government spokesperson says.

A video from the Islamic State group (IS) released yesterday said Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh would be killed in less than 24 hours, unless Jordan frees an Iraqi woman on death row.

The Iraqi woman, Sajida al-Rishawi was sentenced to death in Jordan for her involvement in a 2005 attack on a hotel that killed 60 people.

Japanese hostage Kenji Goto Jogo, who was also was pictured in the footage, was seen holding an image of the Jordanian pilot, but little has been said over his fate since the deal was offered.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani was quoted on state television as saying: “Jordan is ready to release the detainee Sajida al-Rishawi if the Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh is set free and without jeopardizing his life at all. Jordan’s stance from the beginning is to secure the life of our son the pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh.”

Japan has been under growing pressure to seek the release of the veteran reporter, after another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, was reported to have been killed on Saturday.

Following the release of the most recent video, Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: “This was an extremely despicable act and we feel strong indignation. We strongly condemn that.

“While this is a tough situation, our policy remains unchanged in seeking cooperation from the Jordanian government for the early release of Mr Goto.”

Secret talks

Mr Abe chaired an emergency cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss Japan’s response to the IS video.

Japanese officials remained tight-lipped on secret talks in Jordan to secure the freedom of Mr Goto and the Jordanian pilot.

Mr Goto’s mother has appealed publicly to the prime minister to save her son.

Junko Ishido read out her plea to Mr Abe in front of journalists in Tokyo, saying: “Please save Kenji’s life.”

She begged Mr Abe to work with the Jordanian government until the very end to try to save her son.