Lives of hostages hang in the balance as time runs out on Isis' sunset deadline

Audio demanded prisoner swap took place by sunset Thursday

Another deadline created by Isis for the hand-over of an Iraqi female militant has passed, leaving the lives of two hostages hanging tentatively in the balance.

The New York Times is reporting that negotiations between Jordan and Isis appeared to have collapsed, citing a source in contact with Jordanian officials. This report has not been independently verified.

The deadline for Jordan to release the militant came amid threats from Isis that it would kill the captured Jordanian air force pilot, Muath al-Kasaesbeh.

Jordan demanded proof the pilot was still alive less than an hour before the deadline was due to expire. 

Al-Kasaesbeh's father appealed to militants for his son's release as the deadline expired, urging them to "release my son who is your brother in religion and because forgiveness is a message of the Prophet".

Jordanian Government spokesperson Mohammad al-Momani told Reuters an hour before sunset: "We have not received any evidence that Kasaesbeh is alive. This is what we asked and have not received any proof."

An unverified audio message, read by a voice claiming to be Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, was released by Isis after Jordan offered the prisoner exchange to militants in order to save the pilot Isis had threatened to kill within 24 hours. The 24-hour deadline expired on Wednesday.

Sajida al-Rishawi was sentenced to death in Jordan for her role in bomb attacks that killed 60 people.

Turkish soldiers monitor the border line as they stand guard near the Akcakale border crossing in Sanliurfa province, southeastern Turkey

The person speaking in the audio released on Wednesday had warned: “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 Muath al-Kasaesbeh will be killed immediately."

Armoured vehicles were seen waiting at the border gate where the prisoner swap could take place.

Mr Goto's wife broke her silence as the deadline loomed, describing her husband as a "good, honest man who went to Syria to show the plight of those who suffer".

In her plea, she said: "I fear that this is the last chance for my husband and we now have only a few hours left to secure his release and the life of Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh.

"I beg the Jordanian and Japanese Government to understand that the fates of both men are in their hands.


The pilot's family has criticised the government and several dozen protesters, including his father, gathered outside King Abdullah's palace in Amman. His father Safi Kasaesbeh was allowed into the palace, along with his wife, to meet Abdullah.

In Tokyo, Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said experts were analysing the latest message and Japan was doing its utmost to secure the release of Mr Goto, working with nations in the region including Turkey, Jordan and Israel.

"As the situation is developing, I shouldn't comment on details. But, Japan and Jordan are dealing with the matter based on an extremely trusting relationship," he told reporters.

Mr Suga said the government believes there is a “high probability” the voice is Mr Goto’s.

Last week, Isis released a picture claiming the show the freelance journalist holding an image apparently showing Haruna Yukawa’s body last week. An audio alongside it warned Mr Goto and the pilot would suffer the same fate if the prisoner swap did not take place, but made no mention of a previous ransom demand.

Additional reporting by Reuters