With new demand, Islamic State aims to break coalition's unity

DUBAI - Islamic State militants are now demanding the release of a condemned prisoner in Jordan for the remaining Japanese hostage, a move likely intended to fracture the international coalition against the group.

The group had originally demanded in a Tuesday video that Japan pay US$200 million (S$269 million) in ransom for the two hostages. But on Saturday, after apparently killing one, it instead sought the release of a prisoner facing the death penalty in Jordan for her role in a deadly bombing.

Islamic State likely killed one hostage and kept the other alive to pressure Jordan and create rifts in the international coalition against the group, according to Mohamed Hamdan, a professor at the University of Jordan.

The international effort could weaken if the Middle Eastern country, which receives extensive financial support from Japan, caves in. The staunchly anti-terrorism US will likely pressure Jordan to hold on to the prisoner, the professor points out.

The militants have yet to issue a death threat for a Jordanian military pilot captured in December. They are combining a tough and moderate approach to grind the US ally down.

Read the full article here.