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Jordan Renews Offer to Swap Terrorist for ISIS Hostage

The fates of the pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, previously had been linked.

AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan renewed an offer Sunday to swap an al-Qaeda prisoner for a fighter pilot held captive by ISIS, a day after a video purportedly showed the militants beheading a Japanese hostage. The fates of the pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto previously had been linked. The video of the beheading made no mention of the pilot, raising fears for the lieutenant's life.

ISIS last week demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an al-Qaeda prisoner who faces death by hanging for her role in triple hotel bombings in Jordan in 2005. Jordan offered last week to release her for the pilot, but the militants didn't say at the time if they were considering such a deal. An audio message last week, purportedly from ISIS, only said the pilot would be killed if al-Rishawi was not released Thursday.

The deadline passed after Jordan said it cannot free her without proof the pilot is alive. Late Saturday, the video purportedly showing Goto's beheading was released. Government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani told The Associated Press on Sunday that "we are still ready to hand over" al-Rishawi in return for the pilot. Earlier, the state-run Petra news agency quoted him as saying Jordan is working to confirm the pilot "is still alive and ensure his release and return to Jordan."

Relatives of the pilot, meanwhile, said they want the government to be more open with them about efforts to free him. "We want the government to tell us the truth," said Yassin Rawashda, an uncle of the pilot. He said the family is not demanding a full briefing, but wants to hear if release efforts are headed "in a positive direction or not."


— The Associated Press