Isis hostage crisis: Jordan tells militants it is 'still ready to do a deal' to swap female terrorist for pilot after death video

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said it would be 'inappropriate' to comment on the negotiations for pilot Lt Muath al-Kaseasbeh

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Jordanian government has vowed to do "everything it can" to secure the release of its captured pilot, after Isis apparently beheaded the Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.

Militants had previously demanded the release of the jailed Iraqi militant Sajida al-Rishawi in exchange for Mr Goto, and Japan said it had been working with Jordan before the latest video emerged purporting to show the hostage's death.

Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momeni said: "We are still ready to hand over the convict Sajida al-Rishawi in return for the return of our son and our hero," Lt Muath al-Kaseasbeh.

He told the official Petra news agency the government was doing "everything it can to save the life and secure the release" of the pilot.

“We want to know how the negotiations are going in a positive direction or not,” said the pilot’s uncle Yassin Rawashda. “And we want the family to be [involved] in the course of negotiations.”

His family said there had been no word from either side as they held a candlelit vigil following news of the journalist’s death.

“I’m fully hopeful,” the pilot’s brother Jawad told Sky News. “Hopeful first in God and then hope in the Islamic State to help my brother to continue his life.”

Officials joined Japan's prime minister Shinzo Abe in condemning the apparent murder of Mr Goto, a journalist who had worked across the Middle East and was reportedly captured while trying to secure the release of fellow Japanese national Haruna Yukawa - himself killed in an earlier video.

While Japan has said that at no point did it have direct contact with Isis militants, there has been intense public pressure in Jordan for the government to negotiate with the so-called "Islamic State".

Protests have erupted in Karak, the home town of the pilot, who hails from an important Jordanian tribe that forms the backbone of support for the Hashemite monarchy. Lt Kasaesbeh was captured in December after his F-16 fighter jet crashed in territory controlled by the militants in Syria.

Isis's latest video made no mention of Lt Kasaesbeh. It showed Mr Goto kneeling in an orange jumpsuit, and a militant speaking in an English accent believed to be "Jihadi John" addresses Mr Abe, accusing him of making a"reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war".

Japan has vowed to make Isis pay the executions Mr Goto and Mr Yukawa, with Mr Abe saying they "will never forgive the terrorists".

"I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism," the visibly upset prime minister told reporters after convening an emergency cabinet meeting.

"When I think of the grief of his family, I am left speechless," he said. "The government has been doing its utmost in responding to win his release, and we are filled with deep regret."

The Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, said that Britain would stand alongside Japan “united against terrorism”. But the attempted negotiations highlighted divisions between nations opposing Isis over the payment of ransoms, and talking to terrorists.

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, last year highlighted the £28m raised by Isis from oil sales, extortion and ransom and emphasised that British insurance firms were banned from paying ransoms for the return of hostages, a stance not followed by other nations.

Mr Hammond said: “As I have said before, Isis’s brutality cannot be allowed to succeed. We welcome and support Japan’s longstanding and continuing commitment to promoting peace and stability in the Middle East, including through substantial humanitarian assistance.”

Jordan’s government also condemned the beheading of Mr Goto.

The Jordanians said they were still working to establish if he was still alive.

A government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said that the authorities are “still ready to hand over the convict Sajida al-Rishawi in return for the return of our son and our hero”.

A palace statement said that King Abdullah received a phone call from Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe thanking him for his efforts to try to secure the release of Mr Goto “who was killed in cold blood and without any justification”.