Prisoner swap to free two ISIS hostages remains unclear

An unprecedented prisoner swap is in the works in the Middle East. The deal was offered by Jordan to save one of its air force pilots and a Japanese hostage who've been held in Syria by the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The fate of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto is now intertwined with another ISIS hostage: Muath Al-Kasaesbah, a Jordanian pilot whose plane crashed in Syria during a bombing raid last month.

What does a prisoner exchange mean for ISIS and U.S.?

ISIS vowed to execute both men on Wednesday unless Jordan released Sajida al-Rishawi. She's a death row prisoner who was caught after failing to detonate a suicide bomb in 2005.

The militants offered to free the Japanese reporter in return and to spare the life of its Jordanian hostage, though not to release him.

In Tokyo, Goto's mother pleaded for her son's life while in Jordan a small group of protestors, led by the pilot's father, urged their government meet the extremists' demands.

At the last minute, just before the deadline set by ISIS, Jordan agreed to free Al-Rishawi -- but only in exchange for its captured pilot.

So far, there's been no public response from the militants.

Flash Points: What will happen to the Japanese hostage held by ISIS?

ISIS first threatened to execute Goto and another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, a week ago, demanding $200 million in ransom. It's believed Yukawa was beheaded over the weekend.

It doesn't appear that Sajida al-Rishawi has any direct connection with ISIS. She's from Iraq's Anbar Province where ISIS is fighting for territory, so it could be an attempt by the extremists to win hearts and minds.

In forcing Jordan, a close U.S. ally, to agree to release a convicted terrorist, ISIS is sending a warning that it will punish any Muslim government that stands against it.