The woman of terror Islamic State want freed

Written By komlim puldel on Senin, 26 Januari 2015 | 20.01

Japan calls for the immediate release of a Japanese journalist held by Islamic State, after an audio recording claims a fellow Japanese captive has been executed. Justin Mitchell reports.

A TV image of Iraqi suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi opening her jacket and showing an explosive belt as she confesses on Jordanian state-run television to her failed bid to set off an explosives belt. Source: AP

SHE is the would-be suicide bomber on death row, convicted of taking part in a deadly terror attack which killed dozens of people.

And now Islamic State militants have demanded Sajida al-Rishawi be released in exchange for a Japanese hostage currently being held by Islamic State militants.

The would-be bomber made headlines around the globe when she was arrested after her device failed to detonate as part of a string of deadly terror attacks at Jordanian hotels in 2005.

She has been largely out of sight in a decade after being held in a Jordanian prison and has not been seen publicly since.

But she is in the news once again following the release of a video threatening to kill security contractor Haruna Yukawa and freelance journalist Kenji Goto unless Japan paid a $252 ransom.

That deadline passed on Friday, with Tokyo saying it was still making frantic efforts to contact the jihadists.

However a three-minute video was released the next day showing a still image of Goto holding a photograph of a decapitated body said to be Yukawa.

In the accompanying audio recording, a man claiming to be Goto blames Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for Yukawa's killing, and demands the release of al-Rishawi.

Al-Rishawi said her device failed to explode. Source: AP

REIGN OF TERROR:

The Iraqi woman was sentenced to death in 2006 for triple hotel bomb attacks in Amman that killed 60 people on November 9, 2005, rocking one of the Middle East's most stable nations.

The 44-year-old 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 al-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, al-Rishawi displayed an explosives belt strapped across her long black robe and spoke calmly about how the operation was to have been carried out but 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 travelled 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.

Al-Rishawi, whose brother Samir Atruss al-Rishawi, a Zarqawi lieutenant also killed in Iraq, was condemned to death three months later for conspiracy in a terrorist attack.

Jordanian victims wounded in the triple suicide bombing rest in a hospital as they watch TV showing Sajida al-Rishawi confess on air. Source: AP

THE DEMAND:

In the video released on Saturday by the Islamic State, of which Zarqawi's group was a precursor, shows images of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto holding what appears to be a photograph of the slain body of his compatriot Haruna Yukawa.

The video was released with an audio recording in which a man claiming to be Goto blames Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for his fellow captive's death because he failed to pay a $200 million ransom.

The voice also reveals a new demand for the release of al-Rishawi, saying the militants are no longer demanding money to save his life, but want "their sister" to be freed.

"It is simple. You give them Sajida and I will be released," the voice says.

Meanwhile Yukawa's father voiced horror and shock over his son's apparent beheading.

"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 murder of Yukawa as "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 the Islamic State group's "murderous barbarity", and French President Francois Hollande labelled it a "barbaric assassination".

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

The group, which originated in Iraq and appeared in Syria's civil war in spring 2013, holds swathes of Syria and Iraq where it has declared an Islamic "caliphate".

Since then it has committed atrocities including the beheadings of two US reporters, an American aid worker and two British aid workers.

The release of Rishawi was demanded by the Islamic State jihadist group that claimed the murder of a Japanese hostage. Source: AFP

DOUBTS AND HOPE:

Saturday's video was initially met with scepticism, partly because it was not posted on an official IS channel and does not bear their usual black and white flag.

Goto's mother Junko Ishido told reporters Sunday she was left with little hope after seeing the picture of her son, in which he "looked very tense".

"Japan never abandons its people," she said. "I believe the government is united and doing its best."

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 Sajida al-Rishawi.

The ransom demand came as Abe pledged, during a trip to the Middle East, a multi-million dollar aid package to countries affected by the militant group's bloody expansion in Iraq and Syria.

But Abe has been defiant.

"We will never give in to terrorism, and we will actively contribute to the peace and stability of the world together with the international community. We are not wavering at all on this policy," he said yesterday.


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