[Ed. – No real surprises here, but it’s new and specific information about a government-sanctioned attempt to negotiate for Kassig’s release, and for a form of modus vivendi with ISIS. The full article fingers Jordan as angering the jihadi negotiators by arresting one of them.]
The ultimately unsuccessful initiative to save him was the brainchild of a controversial New York lawyer, Stanley Cohen, who has represented Osama bin Laden’s son-in-law and members of Hamas in US courts.
Cohen persuaded two senior clerics aligned with al-Qaida to intervene with Isis on behalf of the American. One, Abu Muhammed al-Maqdisi, is regarded as the world’s most influential living jihadi scholar, while the other, Abu Qatada, was once branded by a Spanish judge as al-Qaida’s “spiritual ambassador” in Europe. …
FBI staff confirmed that senior officials at its headquarters were kept abreast of Cohen’s actions. The bureau also confirmed it would pay $24,000 (£15,000) of expenses incurred by Cohen and his Arabic translator during 17 days in the Middle East. Had it been successful, the negotiation would have carried a high risk for the US. In return for renouncing hostage-taking, Isis was offered a clerical détente: Maqdisi, Abu Qatada and other senior religious figures in al-Qaida’s sphere of influence would stop publicly denouncing Isis as extremists without proper Islamic qualifications.