Purported ISIS Message Sets ‘Sundown’ Deadline for Terrorist Release
(CNN)- Jordan is being pushed to meet ISIS’ demand before the sun sets Thursday over Mosul, Iraq, according to a new message purportedly from the terror organization.
Authorities are to bring convicted terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi to the Turkish border by 5:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. ET), or Jordanian ISIS hostage Moaz al-Kassasbeh will be executed “immediately.”
Jordan has said it’s willing to swap al-Rishawi for the Jordanian pilot.
But could releasing al-Rishawi lead to the sparing of his life and that of another hostage, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto?
CNN could not independently confirm the authenticity of the latest message, which was read by a person claiming to be Goto and posted online by ISIS supporters. In the message, Goto purportedly calls for al-Rishawi’s release in “exchange for my life.”
From the latest message, it’s unclear if ISIS is offering anything in return. But previous video posts purportedly from ISIS have suggested the group was offering Goto’s freedom in exchange for al-Rishawi’s.
It’s the latest twist in a complicated crisis involving several countries. Here’s a look at the key people involved:
• Goto, an experienced war journalist, has been at the center of several threats by ISIS since his capture. Last week, the group demanded $200 million from Japan in exchange for Goto and fellow Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa, an aspiring security contractor. Since then, ISIS has claimed Yukawa is dead, but Goto is still alive.
• Al-Kassasbeh, a Jordanian pilot, was captured by ISIS last month after the fighter jet he was flying crashed in Syria. ISIS says he’s still alive, but Jordan’s foreign minister told CNN his government has asked for a proof of life, but hasn’t received it.
• Al-Rishawi is an Iraqi prisoner on death row in Jordan for her role in 2005 bombings.
Offer still stand?
Jordan’s Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh said his country would release al-Rishawi if ISIS released al-Kassasbeh.
Judeh has also said that the Japanese journalist is not been forgotten. “Of course,” Goto’s release would be part of a prisoner exchange, Judeh said.
But the priority for Jordan is al-Kassasbeh’s freedom.
With the fates of their sons hanging in the balance, the families of Goto and al-Kassasbeh called on their governments to do everything they can to save the hostages before time runs out.
Goto, 47, is reported to have three children, two of them with his current wife.
His mother begged Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to secure her son’s release.
“Please save the life of Kenji,” Junko Ishido said. “I call on you to work with all your strength in negotiations with the Jordanian government, until the very end.”
Al-Kassasbeh’s father has called on Jordanian authorities to act as well.
“I firmly ask whomever has sent Moaz to fight outside the borders of Jordan, on a mission unrelated to us, to make strong efforts to bring back Moaz,” Safi al-Kassasbeh said Tuesday.
ISIS says it captured al-Kassasbeh after he ejected from his F-16 jet last month near Raqqa, the militant group’s de facto capital in Syria.
The pilot’s father suggested his son’s case shouldn’t be mixed up with Goto’s.
“To link Moaz’s situation with the Japanese journalist, this has nothing to do with us,” he said. “The Japanese journalist has his country to defend him.”
Grim track record
ISIS, which holds large areas of Iraq and Syria under its brutal rule, has a grim track record of ruthlessly killing hostages. Last year, it publicized its series of beheadings of three American and two British captives.
The group has made a series of demands regarding the Jordanian and Japanese hostages.
A post from the group on Tuesday announced that time was suddenly in short supply for Goto and the Jordanian pilot.
CNN couldn’t independently verify the authenticity of the messages. The Japanese government said there was no evidence so far that it wasn’t Goto who has been speaking in them.