American hostage held by ISIS is new focus for Obama

Feb 2, 2015 1:43 PM by CBS News

President Obama said the United States is working to rescue an American woman held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) following the execution of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto. He denounced the murder calling it a "barbaric act."

There were hopes his life would be spared after ISIS offered to swap him for a prisoner being held in Jordan. That also raised the possibility of a prisoner exchange in return for that last remaining American hostage. Instead though, the extremists killed Goto, yet another non-combatant, reports CBS News correspondent Holly Williams.

In Tokyo, Goto's mother said her son wanted to make the world a better place.

ISIS had offered to release the Japanese journalist in return for Sajida Al-Rishawi, a failed female suicide bomber on death row in Jordan. The Jordanian Government agreed to free Al-Rishawi, but only in exchange for one of its own citizens, a pilot downed in ISIS territory in December.

In the end, though, there was no prisoner swap, just one more brutal execution.

In Iraq, ISIS flexed its muscles again on Friday, launching a surprise offensive on the oil-rich city of Kirkuk.

The extremists were quickly beaten back, but their confidence in attacking such a big and well-defended city suggests ISIS is a long way from defeat.

U.S. officials are highlighting successes against the terror group, like the Syrian city of Kobani, where the militants were forced to retreat last week. It took more than 700 American-led airstrikes and four months of street fighting by Kurdish forces to drive the extremists out.

Even as ISIS retreats from Kobani, it's gained territory in the rest of Syria during the air campaign.

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