AMMAN, Jordan — Jordan demanded proof Thursday from the Islamic State that a captured Jordanian pilot is still alive, as a deadline reportedly set by the militant group for the kingdom to release a convicted terrorist passed without word on the fate of either prisoner.
“We want to see a proof of life, and then we can talk about an exchange,” Jordanian Information Minister Mohammad al-
Momani told a news conference ahead of the Thursday-at-sunset deadline purportedly set by the militants.
He reaffirmed that Jordan is willing to free Sajida al-Rishawi, 44, an Iraqi sentenced to death for her part in a string of 2005 hotel bombings in Amman, in exchange for the release of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh. The 26-year-old Jordanian air force pilot was captured by Islamic State fighters last month when his F-16 went down in Syria.
“The ultimatum has passed,” Momani said later in an interview. “What we have said is that we demand a proof of life, and we have not received that, which increases the level of suspicion from our side.”
The hostage drama also involves a Japanese journalist held by the Islamic State. An audio recording attributed to the journalist, Kenji Goto, contained a threat to kill the Jordanian pilot if Rishawi wasn’t presented at the Turkish border on Thursday.
The case has inflamed public opinion in Jordan and increased pressure on the government to bow out of the U.S.-led campaign against the Islamic State. Kaseasbeh was flying over Syria as part of the battle against the Islamic State.
The Islamic State has beheaded a number of captives and has also reportedly released some hostages in exchange for ransom.
Booth reported from Jerusalem.