A Jordanian pilot held by ISIS will reportedly be swapped with a convicted Iraqi suicide bomber, after he was threatened with death.
The father of the Jordanian pilot, who is a first lieutenant, appealed to King Abdullah II for the release of an Iraqi female suicide bomber in exchange for his son’s freedom. After weeks of silence, and in uncharacteristic fashion in the Arab nation, Youssef al-Kasasbeh pleaded with the ruler to bring his son home.
“Who is Sajida to us?” Kasasbeh said of the convicted terrorist on Wednesday, at a demonstration in support of the Jordanian pilot. “Sajida is a burden on us, let them release her. I am asking for the release of Sajida and all the prisoners, and the return of Moaz to us. Keeping her in prison is a burden on us.”
According to the New York Times, Lieutenant Kasasbeh comes from a prominent family in Jordan and a large tribe from the central city of Karak. Jordanian officials are obviously taking his captivity seriously and were so concerned about his family’s reaction that Abdullah visited them a day after the pilot’s capture on December 24.
The Jordanian pilot is the first coalition member to be captured by ISIS. The allies, led by the United States, have been pounding the terrorist group with drone attacks for several months now and recently claim that the critical border city of Kobani was successful in pushing back ISIS.
The suicide bomber is an Iraqi woman in her 40s who admitted on Jordanian television to taking part in a 2005 terrorist attack in Amman that killed more than 57 people. Her husband blew himself up, but her suicide vest failed to detonate.
She was later captured by police, tried, and sentenced to death by hanging. Rishawi said she volunteered to avenge her three brothers who were killed in confrontations with American-led troops in Iraq.
In a video, released Wednesday, which has been attributed to ISIS, a Japanese hostage appeals for Rishawi’s release in order to save his and the Jordanian pilot’s life. According to journalist Kenji Goto, who is being threatened with beheading by ISIS, Jordan’s government has until Wednesday afternoon to release Rishawi. Officials have asked the terrorists for proof the the captive is unharmed.
Experts in the West are urging Jordan not to negotiate with the terrorists since releasing the suicide bomber will set a precedent and only embolden ISIS and others to continue taking hostages for ransom or prisoner exchanges. The Jordanian pilot being threatened was captured when his plane crashed last December in northern Syria.
[Image via Twitter]