Jordan calls news of American hostage death ISIS propaganda
by Lynde Langdon
Posted 2/06/15, 03:35 pm
UPDATE (3:35 p.m. EST): A spokesman for Jordan’s government expressed skepticism today at ISIS’s claim that a Jordanian airstrike in Syria killed an American hostage. U.S. officials were looking into the report, but had “not at this time seen any evidence that corroborates” the claim, said Bernadette Meehan, spokeswoman for President Barack Obama’s National Security Council.
Jordan said the claim by ISIS seemed more like propaganda than truth.
“As a first reaction, we think it’s illogical and we are highly skeptical about it,” Jordanian government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani said. “How could they identify a Jordanian warplane … in the sky? What was the American lady doing in a weapons warehouse?”
Al-Momani pointed out that ISIS previously lied that an executed pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, was still alive and tried to exchange him for a prisoner in Jordan. Government officials now believe the pilot was killed weeks before ISIS attempted to use him as a bargaining chip.
OUR EARLIER STORY: Without any evidence to substantiate its claim, ISIS said today that an American hostage has died in a Jordanian airstrike near Raqqa, Syria. In a statement, ISIS said the 26-year-old female aid worker was killed during Friday prayers in airstrikes that targeted “the same location for more than an hour.” But no other ISIS militants were killed, the group claimed.
The statement was posted on a militant website with a picture of the building that was supposedly bombed. Though the identity of the aid worker is known, the government has never officially disclosed it out of fears for her safety. But Denis McDonough, White House chief of staff, accidentally gave the hostage’s first name in an interview with ABC’s This Week last month. ISIS captured her in 2013 in Syria, where she was providing humanitarian aid.
If her death is confirmed, she would be the fourth American to die while held by Islamic State militants. Three other Americans, journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig, were beheaded by the group.
Jordan, which is part of a U.S.-led coalition bombing Islamic State group targets in Syria, stepped up its attacks after ISIS announced it had killed a captive Jordanian pilot. The Syrian government said Thursday dozens of Jordanian fighter jets bombed Islamic State training centers and weapons storage sites. It did not say where the attacks occurred.
There was no word from the Jordanian government on whether its planes struck Raqqa on Friday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.