ISIL releases audio of negotiations over pilot's fate

Salafi scholar Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi reportedly negotiated with ISIL in attempt to secure release of Jordanian pilot.

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    ISIL accused Maqdisi of being a spy after he reportedly conducted negotiations on behalf of the Jordanian government [Al Jazeera]
    ISIL accused Maqdisi of being a spy after he reportedly conducted negotiations on behalf of the Jordanian government [Al Jazeera]

    The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group has released audio recordings of negotiations for the release of a Jordanian pilot who was later killed by the armed group.

    In a YouTube video released on Saturday, Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a prominent Salafi spiritual figure, could be heard negotiating with ISIL over the fate of pilot Moaz al-Kassasbeh.

    In the video, ISIL accused Jordan-based Maqdisi, who appeared to conduct the negotiations on behalf of the Jordanian government, of being a spy for the US and Jordanian authorities.

    "God has placed this pilot in your hands as a key to release your sister Sajida al-Rishawi, so don't make things too complicated," Maqdisi told ISIL in the recordings, referring to a female would-be suicide bomber whose release ISIL demanded in return for handing over Kassasbeh.

    Rishawi was later hanged by Jordan in retaliation for ISIL's killing of Kassasbeh, who was burned alive while locked in a cage earlier this year.

    Spiritual leader

    Maqdisi, who has a large following among Salafi Muslims, is widely seen as the most influential "Jihadi theorist".

    He was jailed in Jordan in 2009 over allegations of jeopardising state security and recruiting fighters for the Taliban in Afghanistan.

    In June 2014, he was released by the Jordanian government in a move widely seen as opposing ISIL by securing Maqdisi's help in the ideological battle against the armed group.

    On September 21, Maqdisi advocated for the release of UK hostage, Alan Henning, who was later beheaded by ISIL.

    "Henning worked with a charitable organisation led by Muslims which sent several aid convoys to help the Syrian people," Maqdisi said.

    "Is it reasonable that his reward is being kidnapped and slaughtered? He should be rewarded with appreciation."

    Maqdisi was also heavily involved in an international effort to secure the release of ISIL hostage Peter Kassig, until he was rearrested by Jordanian authorities in November.

    Kassig, a former US army ranger-turned aid worker, was beheaded shortly after Maqdisi's arrest.

    On February 5, Jordan announced the release of Maqdisi but according to the newly released recordings, Maqdisi had already secretly been freed before that time to conduct negotiations with ISIL over Kassasbeh.

    "I was released a few days ago from prison but this hasn't been announced publicly. I'm currently in a secret location," Maqdisi said in the recordings.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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