In an update to a complicated situation, a Japanese hostage held by the violent extremist group ISIS has reportedly been forced to record a message setting a Thursday deadline for Jordan to release an Iraqi prisoner. If not, the message says, the group will kill a Jordanian pilot it’s holding.
The new demand and deadline was reported Wednesday, the day ISIS’s original 24-hour deadline for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, Iraqi prisoner held in Jordan, was to expire.
Earlier today, a spokesman for Jordan’s government said his country is willing to release Rishawi — “if the Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, is released unharmed,” as we reported.
Hours later, reports emerged that ISIS had sent a new message, along with a new deadline. According to the SITE Intelligence Group, the message came in the form of a video posted by Twitter accounts linked to ISIS, with audio that was attributed to Kenji Goto Jogo, a freelance journalist whom ISIS has been holding prisoner.
SITE quotes the message:
“I’m Kenji Goto Jogo. 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 time, the Jordanian pilot Mu’adh al-Kasasibah will be killed immediately.”
It’s far from clear how the situation might resolve itself. As the AP noted earlier today, Jordan’s statement about the possible trade of an Iraqi prisoner in exchange for the return of its pilot did not mention Goto.
Over the weekend, ISIS released a video that purportedly showed that another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yakawa, had been beheaded.