Photo, above: Jordanian F-16 pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh (centre) is captured by the Islamic State after after crashing near its HQ in the Syrian city of Raqqa in December. ISIS is threatening to kill him unless Jordan releases a terrorist
Jordan ‘says it will hang its ISIS captives’ if airman hostage is dead
- Jordan ‘warns it will fast-track executions in retaliation for ISIS bloodshed’
- Pilot Lt Muath al-Kaseasbeh being held with Japanese hostage Kenji Goto
- Deadline passed for prisoner swap after Jordan said it wanted proof of life
- Fears are now growing that Al-Kaseasbeh has already been murdered
- Jordan says it is still waiting for proof that captured F-16 pilot was alive
Jordan has threatened to fast-track the execution of a would-be suicide bomber the Islamic State is trying to free if the terror group kills its captured pilot, it was reported today.
The government has apparently warned that Sajida al-Rishawi and other jailed ISIS commanders would be ‘quickly judged and sentenced’ in revenge for Muath al-Kaseasbeh’s death.
It comes after a deadline for a possible prisoner swap allegedly set by ISIS passed yesterday with no clue over the fate of al-Kaseasbeh or fellow Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.
Intelligence sources said ISIS’s refusal to prove that al-Kaseasbeh was alive meant any deal with the militants was doomed.
Now Jordan has reportedly stepped up its rhetoric by warning of its intent to retaliate if the negotiations end in bloodshed.
Elijah Magnier, chief international correspondent for Kuwait’s Al Rai newspaper, told MailOnline: ‘I have reliable contact in the Jordanian government who says a message has been passed to ISIS.
‘It warns that if they kill the pilot they will implement the death sentences for Sajida and other ISIS prisoners as soon as possible.
Jordan has threatened to fast-track the execution of a would-be suicide bomber the Islamic State is trying to free if the terror group kills al-Kaseasbeh, seen here after being captured in Syria in December
‘There are other prisoners in Jordan that ISIS would like to free.’
MailOnline has attempted to contact the Jordanian government for comment, but a spokesman has not yet responded.
Shortly after reports of the ultimatum emerged, Jordan issued a statement saying they were still waiting for proof that the captured F-16 pilot was still alive.
Jordan had agreed to an ISIS demand to free al-Rishawi who failed to fulfil her Al Qaeda mission as a suicide bomber.
In return, ISIS said it would not execute the 26-year-old pilot, who was seized in December after crashing near its HQ in the Syrian city of Raqqa.
In its latest audio recording, ISIS threatened to kill al-Kaseasbeh if a deadline was not kept for the release of al-Rishawi by dusk Iraq time yesterday – around 5.30pm (2.30pm GMT).
But it appeared to make no promises to release him, another condition the Jordanian government is demanding.
It was not clear from the recording what would happen to Mr Goto if the deadline was missed.
Japan also said it had no new progress to report.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said every effort was being made to secure the release of journalist Kenji Goto.
‘We are gathering and analysing information while asking for cooperation from Jordan and other countries, making every effort to free Kenji Goto,’ he told a parliamentary panel.
Government spokesman Yoshihide Suga told reporters repeated Japan’s ‘strong trust’ in Jordan to help save the freelance journalist.
Mr Suga said the government had been in close contact with Mr Goto’s wife Rinko Jogo, who released a statement pleading for her husband’s life.
‘I fear that this is the last chance for my husband, and we now have only a few hours left,’ Ms Jogo said in a statement released through the Rory Peck Trust, a London-based organisation for freelance journalists.
Ms Jogo said she had avoided public comment until the last minute to try to protect her daughters, a newborn baby and a two-year-old, from media attention.
An audio message purportedly posted online by IS group said the Jordanian pilot, Lieutenant Muath al-Kaseasbeh, would be killed if would-be suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi was not delivered to the Turkish border by sunset yesterday, Iraq time. There was no mention on whether the pilot or Mr Goto would be traded for her.
The authenticity of the recording could not be verified independently but the possibility of a swap was raised on Wednesday when Jordan said it was willing to trade Rishawi for the pilot.
After sundown in the Middle East, with no news on the fate of either Lt Kaseasbeh or Mr Goto, the families’ agonising wait dragged on.
In the Jordanian capital Amman, the pilot’s brother Jawdat Kaseasbeh, said his family had ‘no clue’ where the negotiations stood.
‘We received no assurances from anyone that he is alive,’ he said. ‘We are waiting, just waiting.’
Jordan’s government spokesman, Mohammed al-Momani, signalled last night that, in any case, a swap was on hold because the hostage-takers had not delivered proof the pilot was still alive.
Rishawi, 44, faces death by hanging for her role in a suicide bombing, one of three simultaneous attacks on Amman hotels in November 2005 that killed 60 people.
She survived because her belt of explosives did not detonate. She initially confessed, but later recanted, saying she was an unwilling participant.
WHY A PRISONER SWAP WOULD ULTIMATELY WEAKEN ISIS
Dr Andreas Krieg, from King’s College London’s Department of Defence Studies, believes that a prisoner swap would benefit ISIS in the short-term, for propaganda purposes, but would ultimately weaken them.
He told MailOnline: ‘The US and the UK government are probably the only governments that have taken an assertive stance towards not negotiating with terrorists.
‘A prisoner swap will only have propaganda value for ISIS.
‘It is not of any operational significance. But symbolically they will be able to demonstrate to their own people and potential recruits in the West that they have the bargaining power to issue demands to powerful governments.
‘Also, ISIS needs this symbolic success as the fall of Kobane is a major symbolic defeat after they poured so many resources in it.
‘After all it seems they will not prevail there. It is also a significant blow against the Jordanian government, which as part of the US-led coalition is under significant domestic and external Japanese pressure to do something.
‘ISIS would make Jordan look weak compared to local extremists in Jordan and to coalition partners, most notably the US.
‘But to be honest, with ISIS urgently in need for new financial resources, I think that a prisoner swap is always better than ransom.
‘The initially claimed ransom would have added significantly to their budget (it would have covered 10 per cent of their annual budget). They can’t smuggle oil anymore, avenues of extortion have been exhausted.
‘So kidnap for ransom is the only significant income they can generate. Not getting the money is a good thing. It will weaken rather than significantly strengthen the organization.
‘We can’t say much about the swap at the moment. Just that it will be done by intermediaries. But both sides would be stupid to try to use the actual swap at the border to play games.
For Jordan it will jeopardise the life of their pilot and for ISIS it would undermine their credibility as negotiation partners in kidnapping cases.
‘As I said, ISIS needs kidnap for ransom to maintain their financial self-sufficiency.’