ARA News is reporting that al-Qaeda is considering exchanging Japanese hostage Jumpei Yasuda to the Islamic State for an unknown amount of al-Qaeda al-Nusra Front prisoners. They write:
Yasuda, who went missing in Syria in 2015, has been held hostage by the al-Qaeda affiliated Nusra Front. The group released a recent image for the Japanese freelance journalist earlier this week, holding a sign bearing the message “Please help. This is the last chance”, in a new call to his government and family.
According to NBC, Japan’s foreign minister, Fumio Kushida, believes the photo to be genuine.
The BBC reports that “Japan’s Kyodo news agency quoted an unnamed source claiming to be a mediator for the Nusra Front saying Mr Yasuda would be passed to IS if the government did not negotiate.”
The al-Nusra Front, or Jabhat al-Nusra, is sometimes called al-Qaeda in Syria or al-Qaeda in the Levant. Both al-Qaeda and ISIS are vying for political power in the region and in September 2015, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, the man who replaced Osama bin Laden, purportedly declared war on ISIS “caliph” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.