Jordan Vows ‘All Efforts’ to Secure Pilot’s Release – Voice of America
Jordan’s King Abdullah II said his country is doing everything it can to rescue the captured Jordanian fighter pilot being held by the Islamic State group.
“All efforts in Jordan are being exploited to seek the release of the hero pilot,” Muath al-Kaseasbeh, the king said Sunday.
Amman renewed its pledge to release an Iraqi insurgent on death row in Jordan, Sajida al-Rishawi, if given proof that the pilot is still alive. The new effort came in the aftermath of the jihadists’ beheading of a Japanese journalist.
“We are still ready to hand over the convict Sajida al-Rishawi in return for the return of our son and our hero,” government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani told Reuters.
The pilot’s father, Safi al-Kaseasbeh, said, “We have no idea how he is right now, so I am really worried just like many fathers whose sons are not around. The feeling is so strong because I do not know anything about his fate. I ask our government and the king, as well as the intelligence chief and all related departments to seriously and rapidly rescue al-Kaseasbeh.”
The pilot’s family asked the Jordanian government to be more open about its negotiations to secure the pilot’s freedom. An uncle of the pilot, Yassin Rawashda, said “We want the government to tell us the truth.”
Kasaesbeh was captured in December, after his fighter plane was downed over an Islamic State-controlled area of Syria. Saturday’s video made no mention of the pilot.
Vigil in Japan
A vigil was held in Tokyo Sunday for the beheaded Japanese journalist, Kenji Goto.
The fates of the two hostages had previously been linked, but the beheading video did not mention Kaseasbeh, raising concerns for his life.
Japan and the United States condemned the Islamic State jihadists Saturday after the grisly Internet video showed the execution.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the killing an “inhumane and contemptible act of terrorism,” and vowed he would never forgive the killers.
“When I think of the grief of his family, I am left without words,” Abe said. “The Japanese government has been doing its utmost in responding to win his release, and we are filled with deep regrets. I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism. I will never forgive these terrorists. I shall let them pay for this sin and will coordinate with the international community for it.”
Abe said, “Japan will never give into terrorism. We will further expand our humanitarian support in (the) food and medical area. And Japan will firmly take its responsibility in a decisive manner in the international effort to fight against terrorism.”
In Washington, President Barack Obama described the killing as “heinous murder.”
The statements came hours after a video purported to show Goto kneeling next to a hooded man holding a knife to the journalist’s throat. The footage, which conforms to other beheading videos posted by the extremists, ends with a picture of a decapitated body.
The journalist’s mother, Junko Ishido, said she hopes her son’s death “would contribute to the world, however small it may be. I would be so grateful if you could make this happen.”
“He always hoped to make the world a place without any wars, and to save children from war and poverty. I promise here to carry out his legacy hopefully with your support,” his mother added.
Analysts believe the executioner had the same British accent as the killer featured in earlier Islamic State execution videos.
The new video appeared two days after the latest deadline by the militants demanding the release of Rishawi, who faces death by hanging for her role in triple hotel bombings in 2005 that killed 60 people in the Jordanian capital, Amman.
A day earlier, on Friday, Japan’s foreign minister said progress to secure the release of Goto and al-Kaseasbeh had “become deadlocked.”
Days ahead of Saturday’s video, Islamic State released footage showing Goto holding pictures of another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, who had apparently been beheaded. In the video, a man’s voice, identifying himself as Goto, directly addresses Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, accusing him of responsibility for Yukawa’s death.
Goto is believed to have been captured by Islamic State last year while trying to rescue Yukawa.
The hostage crises come as Islamic State militants have captured large areas of Iraq and Syria, declaring the region a caliphate that all other Muslims should follow.
Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.