Jordan is willing to free an Iraqi female jihadist from prison in exchange for a Jordanian pilot held hostage by the Islamic State terrorist group (ISIS), state television said Wednesday.
“Jordan is ready to release the prisoner Sajida al-Rishawi if the Jordanian pilot is freed unharmed,” it quoted a government spokesman as saying.
ISIS, in a video released on Tuesday, threatened to kill airman Maaz al-Kassasbeh and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto unless Amman releases al-Rishawi within 24 hours.
The demand to release al-Rishawi – while dropping demands for a $200 million ransom – raised eyebrows, and sent analysts scrambling to discover who she was to be of such importance to ISIS.
According to one report al-Rishawi, who is currently appealing a 2006 death sentence handed to her by a Jordanian court, is the sister of a top deputy of ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s predecessor, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.