MOSCOW, December 19 (Sputnik) – The Guardian published an exclusive interview Thursday, in which it was revealed that US counter-terrorism officials held high-level negotiations with leaders of the Islamic State (IS) in an attempt to save the life of Peter Kassig, the US aid worker held hostage by the militants for more than a year and then killed on November 16.
Stanley Cohen, a New York lawyer who previously represented Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and some members of Hamas in US courts, was responsible for the high-stakes negotiations. Cohen managed to convince two prominent jihadi clerics aligned with al-Qaida Abu Muhammed al-Maqdisi and Abu Qatada to intervene with the IS on behalf of Kassig. The former man is regarded as the world’s most influential contemporary jihadi scholar, while the latter was once described as al-Qaida’s “spiritual ambassador” in Europe, according to the Guardian.
The FBI is said to have confirmed it would pay $24,000 worth of expenses for Cohen and his Arabic translator during their time in the Middle East. However, things did not go smoothly and the negotiations failed. Al-Maqdisi, one of the jihadi scholars, was arrested during the negotiation process by Jordanian security services. The Jordanian government has not yet responded to questions from the Guardian as to why al-Maqdisi was arrested, and whether his arrest could have prevented the release of the American hostage.
“I feel we lost a golden opportunity to not only save Kassig, but other potential hostages,” Cohen said, revealing his disappointment, as quoted by the Guardian.
The FBI’s said the organization’s top priority was the safety of US citizens and refused to discuss any further details of the failed negotiations publicly, a spokesman for the FBI told the Guardian.