Friday January 30, 2015

Why ISIS wants failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi

Listen 25:43

After years inside a Jordanian prison, Sajida al-Rishawi is suddenly at the centre of an international crisis. We look at who this woman is, and why she has become so valuable to the so-called Islamic State.

The deadline has passed for a prisoner exchange in the Middle East, and we still await updates on the hostages' fates, with families in both Jordan and Japan hoping for the best.

On one side of the exchange is the extremist group ISIS. Already well-known for kidnapping journalists, their hostages include one of Japan's best known foreign correspondents, Kenji Goto. But the real prize hostage for ISIS right now is a Jordanian fighter pilot. He's the first coalition fighter ISIS has captured since the offensive against them began last year.

Which brings us to the other side of the exchange. Sajida al Rishawi has been inside a Jordanian prison for nearly a decade. She was jailed after failing in her part of a suicide attack on the Jordanian capital and largely forgotten by the rest of the world.

Now, ISIS says they will release the Japanese journalist in exchange for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi. Jordan countered that it would consider releasing her, if ISIS returned its pilot as well.

For more on the situation, we were joined by three guests:

Rod Nordland is a reporter with the New York Times. We reached him in Amman, Jordan.

Dale Gavlak is a freelance journalist. We reached her in Amman, Jordan.

Michael Weiss is the author of the forthcoming book "ISIS: Inside the Army of Terror."

What are your thoughts?

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Or e-mail us through our website. Find us on Facebook. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And as always if you missed anything on The Current, grab a podcast.

This segment was produced by The Current's Catherine Kalbfleisch and Sonya Buyting.