Jordan offers to free jihadist militant if IS releases pilot

By Kamal Taha ,AFP

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan offered Wednesday to free a female jihadist in exchange for a Jordanian pilot held by the Islamic State (IS) group, which is threatening to execute the airman and a Japanese journalist. It came after the parents of the hostages made last-ditch pleas for their lives as a deadline set by IS for the release of the would-be suicide bomber approached. ��Jordan is ready to release the prisoner Sajida al-Rishawi if the Jordanian pilot is freed unharmed,�� Jordanian state television quoted a government spokesman as saying. ��From the start, the position of Jordan was to ensure the safety of our son, the pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh,�� it added. It made no mention of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto. IS, in a video released Tuesday, threatened to kill Kaseasbeh and Goto unless Rishawi is freed within 24 hours. The Japanese government says it believes the IS deadline expires around 1400 GMT on Wednesday. Tokyo has been urgently seeking Jordan’s help since an IS video released at the weekend said another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, had been beheaded.

Japan has sent Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama to Amman to head an emergency response team. Rishawi has been on death row since 2006 for her part in triple hotel bombings in Amman that killed 60 people. Kaseasbeh was captured on December 24 after his F-16 jet crashed while on a mission against the jihadists over northern Syria. Jordanian officials have noted that while the IS video threatened Kaseasbeh’s life, it only mentioned freeing Goto in exchange for Rishawi.