AMMAN/TOKYO - An audio message purportedly from a Japanese journalist held by Islamic State militants said a Jordanian air force pilot also captured by the group would be killed unless a woman jailed in Jordan was released by sunset on Thursday.
The message appeared to postpone a previous deadline set on Tuesday in which the journalist, Kenji Goto, said he would be killed within 24 hours if the Iraqi would-be suicide bomber in prison in Jordan was not freed.
The latest audio recording, which could not be verified by Reuters, was posted on YouTube early on Thursday. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference that chances were high it was Goto's voice in the recording.
"I am Kenji Goto. This is a voice message I've been told to send to you. If Sajida al-Rishawi is not ready for exchange for my life at the Turkish border by Thursday sunset 29th of January Mosul (Iraq) time, the Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh will be killed immediately," the voice in the recording says.
Jordan said on Wednesday it had received no assurance that al-Kasaesbeh was safe and that it would go ahead with a proposed prisoner swap only if he was freed.
The audio message implied that the Jordanian pilot would not be part of an exchange deal, indicating any swap would be between Goto, a veteran war reporter, and al-Rishawi.