ISIS Demands Release of Female Jihadist in Exchange for Japanese Hostage

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Monday, January 26, 2015

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) extremist group sought to raise the pressure on Japan by saying the fate of a Japanese captive, freelance journalist Kenji Goto, depended on the release of an Iraqi would-be female bomber who is on death row in Jordan.

The claim, made Sunday, came a day after the release of a video announcing the execution of security contractor Haruna Yukawa by the jihadist group, in an apparent beheading that has been slammed by leaders around the world.

"The Islamic State has carried out its threat... it has executed Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa after the expiry of the deadline given," the jihadist group said on its al-Bayan radio, using another name for ISIS.

"The second hostage is calling on his relatives to put pressure on the (Japanese) government for the release of our sister Sajida al-Rishawi, held in the jails of the oppressors in Jordan, in exchange for his release," it added.

Sunday's radio statement made no mention of the $200 million ransom that the group had initially demanded, but only referred to the release of Rishawi.

Rishawi’s name first emerged Saturday in an ISIS video that showed Goto holding what appeared to be a photograph of Yukawa's slain body.

Rishawi was sentenced to death by a Jordanian court in September 2006 in connection with triple hotel bomb attacks in Amman the previous year, which killed 60 people.

The 44-year-old woman was arrested four days after the attacks in which her husband Ali Hussein al-Shammari and two other Iraqis, blew themselves up.

The heaviest casualties came when Shammari detonated his explosives belt at the Radisson SAS hotel as a wedding was in full swing.

Two other hotels were hit in the coordinated attacks and most of the dead were Jordanians.

After her arrest, Jordanian authorities paraded Rishawi on state television for her to confess that she had accompanied her husband to Jordan to carry out the attacks.

During her televised confession, Rishawi displayed an explosives belt strapped across her long black robe and spoke calmly about how the operation was to have been carried out.

Rishawi, who appeared with a white head scarf, said that at the last minute she had not managed to activate her belt to blow herself up.

She said her husband was one of the bombers, that they had traveled from Iraq using fake passports and he had shown her how to activate the explosives.

Her trial opened in April 2006, with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, also on the charge sheet.

Jordanian-born Zarqawi, who was killed in a US air raid in Iraq in June 2006, had claimed the triple bombings in Amman.

Zarqawi’s group was a precursor of ISIS, and Rishawi's brother, Samir Atruss al-Rishawi, who was also killed in Iraq, was one of Zarqawi's top lieutenants.

Meanwhile, Japan dispatched a minister to Jordan earlier this week. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declined to comment on whether he would ask Amman to release Sajida.

World leaders react to Yukawa’s execution

The video unleashed a tide of global revulsion while Yukawa's father voiced horror and shock.

"I thought 'Ah, this finally happened' and was filled with regret," said Shoichi Yukawa.

"I went totally blank, I was only sorry... I had no words," he said. "In my mind I wish very much that this wasn't true."

Abe branded the execution "outrageous and unforgivable" and called for Goto's immediate release.

"I condemn it strongly and resolutely," said the Japanese leader.

US President Barack Obama condemned the "brutal murder" and offered Abe condolences while expressing his solidarity with the people of Japan.

British Prime Minister David Cameron decried ISIS’s "murderous barbarity," and French President Francois Hollande labelled it a "barbaric assassination."

The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously condemned the group's "brutality."

"The Security Council... strongly condemned the heinous and cowardly act," a statement read.

"This crime is, yet again, a tragic reminder of the increasing dangers people face every day in Syria, including journalists," the UNSC said.

"It also once again demonstrates the brutality of (the ISIS group), which is responsible for thousands of abuses against the Syrian and Iraqi people."

Further, the Security Council "underlined the need to bring perpetrators of these reprehensible acts of terrorism to justice."

The 15 countries demanded the immediate release of Goto and all hostages still being held by the ISIS group, the "al-Nusra Front and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with al-Qaeda."

ISIS "must be defeated and... the intolerance, violence and hatred it espouses must be stamped out," the council members added.

The statement said the UNSC would hold those responsible for Yukawa's death accountable.

Germany and the EU also condemned the killing by ISIS, an extremist group which carries out near-daily executions, often beheadings, in areas under its control.

Large swathes of land in Iraq have become ISIS strongholds as the extremist group, which declared a "caliphate" in the territory it seized in Iraq and Syria, drove Iraq's army – the recipient of $25 billion in US training and funding since the 2003 invasion – to collapse in June.

ISIS has killed thousands of citizens and soldiers in Iraq and Syria. It has also executed two Lebanese soldiers and five Westerners in recent months.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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