ISIS threatens to kill hostages if demands not met by Thursday night

Islamic State is demanding the release of a death-row terrorist who killed 60 in a 2005 attack in Amman.

January 29, 2015 14:32
1 minute read.
Kenji Goto

Kenji Goto, the Japanese journalist held captive by Islamic State and excuted by the group in January 2015. (photo credit: YOUTUBE SCREENSHOT)

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, on death row for her role in a 2005 suicide bomb attack that killed 60 people in Amman, Jordan, was not freed.

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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.

There was no immediate comment from the Jordanian government, but a security official said authorities were trying to verify the authenticity of the recording and were coordinating with their Japanese counterparts.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said on Wednesday that Jordan was ready to release al-Rishawi if Kasaesbeh was spared, but made clear that she would be held until the pilot was freed.

Kasaesbeh was captured after his jet crashed in northeastern Syria in December during a bombing mission against Islamic State, which has captured large tracts of Syria and Iraq.

On Saturday, Islamic state murdered one of the Japanese hostages, Haruna Yukawa after its demand for a $200 million ransom was not met.

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