US backed secret Islamic State talks to save hostage

Two leading jihadi clerics and a controversial American lawyer conducted secret negotiations over six weeks to try to save the life of Islamic State hostage Peter Kassig in an operation approved by senior US counter-terrorism officials, it has emerged.

Stanley Cohen, the US lawyer, described to The Telegraph the extraordinary mission involving Abu Qatada, the extremist preacher deported from Britain to Jordan, and a fellow radical cleric as they tried to save Mr Kassig, an American aid worker.

The mission collapsed when the second cleric, Abu Muhammed al-Maqdisi, was detained by Jordan even though Mr Cohen said that he had secured a written agreement from the Federal Bureau of Investigations that those involved in the talks would not face arrest by America’s regional ally.