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Jordan Says It's Willing To Swap Prisoner For Hostage Held By ISIS

Passersby watch a TV news program Wednesday in Tokyo reporting on a video posted on YouTube by extremists that purports to show Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.
Eugene Hoshiko

Jordan says it is prepared to meet the demands of Islamic State militants in order to save the life of a Jordanian hostage.

On Tuesday, the Sunni extremists released a video in which they demanded that Jordan release a woman who was sentenced to death over an attack in Amman that killed 60 people. If the release didn't happen in 24 hours, the militants said, they would kill a Jordanian pilot and a Japanese journalist.

The AP reports:

"On Wednesday, [Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed] al-Momani said in a statement that 'Jordan is ready to release the Iraqi prisoner, Sajida al-Rishawi, if the Jordanian pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, is released unharmed.' His comments were carried by Jordan's official Petra news agency. ...

"Jordan is reportedly in indirect talks with the militants through religious and tribal leaders in Iraq to secure the hostages' release.

"The chairman of the foreign affairs committee of Jordan's parliament, Bassam Al-Manasseer, has been quoted as saying that Jordan and Japan would not negotiate directly with the Islamic State group and would not free al-Rishawi for the Japanese hostage only."

The AP notes that in Jordan's latest statement, it makes no mention of Kenji Goto, the Japanese hostage.

According to the BBC, the video released on Tuesday showed Goto holding a picture of what appeared to be the body of another Japanese hostage.

Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the video "utterly despicable," and he also asked his country's ministers to "take all possible measures to ensure the safety of Japanese nationals at home and abroad."

Meanwhile, a group with ties to the Islamic State took responsibility for an armed attack on a luxury hotel in Tripoli, Libya, on Tuesday.

The New York Times reports that the attack killed at least eight people. The Times adds:

"Officials said at least five of those killed were foreign visitors. The State Department confirmed that an American had been killed, and witnesses said he was a former Marine working in security. The Associated Press, citing an executive at Crucible, a security company in Fredericksburg, Va., later identified the American as David Berry, a contractor with Crucible.

"It was the deadliest attack on Western interests in Libya since the assault on the American diplomatic mission in Benghazi that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in 2012. It was also the bloodiest of several recent attacks by Libyans pledging loyalty to the Islamic State, raising fears that its example was further inflaming Libya's violence."

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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