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Jordan Vows 'All Efforts' to Secure Pilot's Release

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Safi al-Kaseasbeh, center, father of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, speaks at a news conference where he asked Islamic State militants to pardon and release his son, in Amman, Feb. 1, 2015.

Safi al-Kaseasbeh, center, father of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, speaks at a news conference where he asked Islamic State militants to pardon and release his son, in Amman, Feb. 1, 2015.

Jordan's King Abdullah II said his country is doing everything it can to rescue the captured Jordanian fighter pilot being held by the Islamic State group.

“All efforts in Jordan are being exploited to seek the release of the hero pilot," Muath al-Kaseasbeh, the king said Sunday.

Amman renewed its pledge to release an Iraqi insurgent on death row in Jordan, Sajida al-Rishawi, if given proof that the pilot is still alive. The new effort came in the aftermath of the jihadists' beheading of a Japanese journalist.

"We are still ready to hand over the convict Sajida al-Rishawi in return for the return of our son and our hero," government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani told Reuters.

Jawdat Safi, brother of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, holds a lit candle along with a poster of his brother as he takes part in a rally in support of al-Kaseasbeh at the family's headquarters in the city of Karak, Jan. 31, 2015

Jawdat Safi, brother of Islamic State captive Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, holds a lit candle along with a poster of his brother as he takes part in a rally in support of al-Kaseasbeh at the family's headquarters in the city of Karak, Jan. 31, 2015

The pilot's father, Safi al-Kaseasbeh, said, "We have no idea how he is right now, so I am really worried just like many fathers whose sons are not around. The feeling is so strong because I do not know anything about his fate.

"I ask our government and the king, as well as the intelligence chief and all related departments to seriously and rapidly rescue al-Kaseasbeh," he added.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State group posted new pictures on the Internet Sunday claiming to have beheaded an Iraqi police officer and two soldiers.

The pilot's family asked the Jordanian government to be more open about its negotiations to secure the pilot's freedom. Yassin Rawashda, an uncle of the pilot, said, "We want the government to tell us the truth."

Kasaesbeh was captured in December, after his fighter plane was downed over an Islamic State-controlled area of Syria.

Vigil in Japan

A vigil was held in Tokyo Sunday for the beheaded Japanese journalist, Kenji Goto.

The fates of the two hostages had previously been linked, but the beheading video did not mention Kaseasbeh, raising concerns for his life.

Japan and the United States condemned the Islamic State jihadists Saturday after the grisly Internet video showed the execution.

Japanese women react as they read extra newspapers in Tokyo reporting about an online video that purported to show an Islamic State group militant beheading Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, Feb. 1, 2015.

Japanese women react as they read extra newspapers in Tokyo reporting about an online video that purported to show an Islamic State group militant beheading Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, Feb. 1, 2015.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the killing an "inhumane and contemptible act of terrorism," and vowed he would never forgive the killers.

"When I think of the grief of his family, I am left without words," Abe said. "The Japanese government has been doing its utmost in responding to win his release, and we are filled with deep regrets. I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism. I will never forgive these terrorists. I shall let them pay for this sin and will coordinate with the international community for it."

Abe said, "Japan will never give into terrorism. We will further expand our humanitarian support in (the) food and medical area. And Japan will firmly take its responsibility in a decisive manner in the international effort to fight against terrorism."

In Washington, President Barack Obama described the killing as "heinous murder."

In New York, the United Nations Security Council joined the chorus of condemnations, calling the beheading a "heinous and cowardly murder."

Video released

The statements came hours after a video purported to show Goto kneeling next to a hooded man holding a knife to the journalist's throat. The footage, which conforms to other beheading videos posted by the extremists, ends with a picture of a decapitated body.

Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto who was slain by Islamic State militants, speaks to reporters at her house in Tokyo, Feb. 1, 2015.

Junko Ishido, mother of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto who was slain by Islamic State militants, speaks to reporters at her house in Tokyo, Feb. 1, 2015.

The journalist's mother, Junko Ishido, said she hopes her son's death "would contribute to the world, however small it may be. I would be so grateful if you could make this happen."

"He always hoped to make the world a place without any wars, and to save children from war and poverty. I promise here to carry out his legacy hopefully with your support,” his mother added.

Analysts believe the executioner had the same British accent as the killer featured in earlier Islamic State execution videos.

The new video appeared two days after the latest deadline by the militants demanding the release of Rishawi, who faces death by hanging for her role in triple hotel bombings in 2005 that killed 60 people in the Jordanian capital, Amman.

A day earlier, on Friday, Japan's foreign minister said progress to secure the release of Goto and aKaseasbeh had "become deadlocked."

Days ahead of Saturday's video, Islamic State released footage showing Goto holding pictures of another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, who had apparently been beheaded.

Goto is believed to have been captured by Islamic State fighters last year while trying to rescue Yukawa.

The hostage crises come as Islamic State militants have captured large areas of Iraq and Syria, declaring the region a caliphate that all other Muslims should follow.

Some material for this report came from AP, AFP and Reuters.

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