Top Washington Democrats said Sunday that the U.S. won’t try to meddle in a potential hostage-prisoner exchange between the Islamic State and Japan but suggested that compromising with the ruthless extremist group is a step in the wrong direction.
California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told Fox News that the negotiations are “obviously” between both sides and involve Jordan, where a female prisoner is being held in connection with a series of 2005 terror bombings, but she still doesn’t like the idea.
“I'm not for it candidly,” said Feinstein, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s top Democrat and former chairwoman.
Her comments follow a video released Saturday apparently by Islamic State with the message that the group executed Haruna Yukawa, a 42-year-old adventurer fascinated by war, and wants the release of the female prisoner to spare the life of the other Japanese hostage, 47-year-old journalist Kenji Goto.
Earlier Sunday, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough on “Fox News Sunday” also made clear that the decision was Japan’s and stated the U.S. policy of not negotiating with terror groups over hostages.
“The policies are well set: The U.S. doesn't pay ransoms and will not do prisoner swaps. We will not discuss what the Japanese should do,” he said. “We are not going to advise Japan.”
McDonough also argued “cash fuels future kidnappings.”
President Obama has spoken out about the apparent killing.
“The United States strongly condemns the brutal murder,” he said Saturday in a statement. “We stand shoulder to shoulder with our ally Japan.”
Feinstein also argued that Islamic State, which has executed dozens of hostages in recent months, including three Americans, is asking for the release of Sajida al Rishawi -- the prisoner connected with the 2005 bombings at several Jordanian hotels in which 57 people were killed.
The explosive carried by al Rishawi’s husband detonated, but hers did not. Al Rishawi reportedly has also confessed to taking part in the attacks, allegedly orchestrated by al Qaeda.
“The prisoner that they want is a very high-level woman who participated in what was a devastating bombing,” Feinstein said.
She also said that Congress can do little to stop the hostage taking that often includes online videos of the victims getting beheaded.
“That's very difficult to do unless you want to take anyone and everyone out of the country,” Feinstein said. “I think we're trying to combat it. We've got air missions attacking ISIL. … The battle against ISIL has been joined [by other nations]. The question that's going to come is how much will the United States put into that battle.”