AMMAN: Jordan offered a prec- edent-setting

Gulf Daily News Thursday, 29th January 2015
Jordan offers swap
to save pilot
AMMAN: Jordan offered a precedent-setting prisoner swap to the
Islamic State (IS) group yesterday in a
desperate attempt to save a Jordanian
air force pilot the militants threatened
to kill, along with a Japanese hostage.
Late last night, the pilot’s father met Jordan’s King Abdullah who he said assured
him that “everything will be fine”.
However, meeting the IS demand for the
release of a would-be hotel bomber linked
to Al Qaeda would run counter
to the kingdom’s hard-line approach to the extremists.
Efforts to release the pilot,
Lt Muath Al Kaseasbeh, and
Japanese journalist Kenji Goto
gained urgency with the release of an online ultimatum
claiming the IS would kill both
hostages within 24 hours if the
prisoner was not freed.
By late last night, there was
no word on the fate of the hostages and no sign a swap was
In a possible indication of n Ishido reacts during a Press
conference in Tokyo
a hold-up, Jordan’s foreign
minister wrote on his Twitter
account that Jordan had not re- also remained unclear.
ceived evidence the pilot was
spokesman Mohammed Al
alive and healthy.
The scope of a possible swap Momani said Jordan is ready
and of the IS group’s demands to trade the prisoner, an Iraqi
woman convicted of involvement in deadly Amman hotel
bombings in 2005, for the pilot.
He made no mention of Goto,
and it was not clear if the swap
proposed by Jordan would satisfy the hostage-takers.
Any exchange would set a
precedent for negotiating with
the militants, who in the past
have not publicly demanded
prisoner releases.
The release of Sajida Al
Rishawi would also be a propaganda coup for the IS who have
already overrun large parts of
Syria and Iraq.
Jordan is part of a US-led
military alliance that has carried out air strikes against IS
targets in Syria and Iraq.
Several dozen protesters
n Goto holds a photo of the Jordanian pilot in a
video released by the militant group
and was allowed into the
palace, along
with his wife,
to meet King
n A woman holds a picture of her pilot son
gathered outside King Abdul- Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido,
lah’s palace in Amman, urging appealed publicly to Prime
the government to do more to Minister Shinzo Abe.
win the release of the pilot.
“Please save Kenji’s life,”
The pilot’s father, Safi Al Ka- she said, begging Abe to work
saesbeh, was part of the group with the Jordanian government
until the very end to try to save
“Kenji has only a little time
left,” she said in a plea read to
reporters. Ishido said both Abe
and Japan’s main government
spokesman had declined to
meet her.
Later, a few dozen people
gathered outside the prime minister’s official residence, holding banners expressing hopes
for Goto’s release.