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Captured pilot serious challenge for Jordan's king

As negotiations with the Islamic State for a prisoner swap for Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh falter, the Jordanian public is directing its anger against the kingdom’s decision to participate in the anti-IS coalition.
Relatives of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh hold his poster as they take part in a rally in his support at the family's headquarters in the city of Karak, January 31, 2015. The words on the portrait reads, "We are all Muath." REUTERS/Stringer (JORDAN - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTR4NQMF

Jordanians are fearing the worst following the brutal murder of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, whose killing by the Islamic State (IS) was aired in an online video late Jan. 31, two days after the deadline for a swap deal for his release. The fate of Goto was linked to Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh, 26, held by IS since his F-16 crashed in Syria on Dec. 24. Hopes of recovering him alive in return for the release of convicted Iraqi terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi were dashed when the second deadline set by IS expired without a deal. Jordan had said it would exchange Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber involved in the November 2005 Amman hotel bombings, for Kasasbeh. IS had insisted that it will trade Goto for Rishawi, but that it would kill both hostages if the deal didn’t go through.

Despite Goto’s murder, Jordan’s armed forces insist they are still working on the release of Kasasbeh, although no details of the ongoing negotiations have been made public. On Jan. 28, before the first deadline, Jordan revealed that it would only release the Iraqi woman, who is on death row, in return for the Jordanian pilot, who was carrying out a mission on behalf of the US-led coalition against IS. Later that day, Minister of Foreign Affairs Nasser Joudeh tweeted that Jordan was waiting for proof that Kasasbeh was alive. The Jordanian pilot has not appeared in any IS video since his capture, raising fears about his well-being.

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