The Jordanian government has agreed to a prisoner swap with ISIS, releasing an Iraqi extremist, on death row, for her involvement in a terrorist attack, in 2005. Mohammed al-Momani, a Jordanian government spokesmen, announced today that "Jordan is ready to release the Iraqi prisoner, Sajida al-Rishawi, if the Jordanian pilot, Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, is released unharmed."

Iraqi extremist, Sajida al-Rishawi was sentenced to death, in 2005, for her involvement in an al-Qaida terrorist attack that killed over 60 people in an Amman hotel.

This is the first time that the Islamic State demanded the release of prisoners in exchange for hostages.

ISIS captured Jordanian Lieutenant Pilot, Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, in December, after his F-16 crashed near Raqqa, in Syria. Two months prior, the Islamic State had taken Japanese freelance journalist, Kenji Goto, hostage. On Tuesday 27th, the rebels released a video threatening to kill both hostages if Jordan didn’t agree to release al-Rishawi, in the next 24 hours.

More than 200 people protested outside of the prime-minister’s house in Amman, demanding that the government secures the Lieutenant Pilot’s release. Most of the population is against the Jordanian involvement in a US-led coalition that started an aerial campaign against ISIS, in August. The pilot’s father explained to the Associated Press that “all people must know, from the head of the regime to everybody else, that the safety of Mu’ath means the stability of Jordan and the death of Mu’ath means chaos in Jordan”.

There was no mention of Mr Goto during the announcement, making it unclear if the Japanese hostage is also involved in this agreed prisoner swap. His mom, Junko Ishido, made a second public appeal to the Japanese Prime-Minister, Shinzo Abe, to “save Kenji’s life”. The Japanese Foreign Affairs minister said that Japan “would like to work together with the Jordanian government to secure the release of Goto”. 

The last video released by ISIS, on Tuesday, featured a man believed to be Mr Goto, saying that “time is running very short” and “it’s me for her [al-Rishawi], a simple exchange,” leaving his friends and relatives hopeful that he could be released along with the Jordanian Lieutenant Pilot, Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, within the next hours.

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