The Islamic State has threatened to kill two Japanese hostages identified as Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yukawa if the ransom of $200 million is not paid within the next 72 hours.
Yukawa, 42, a private military company operator, was kidnapped in Syria in August after going there to train with militants; and Goto, 47, is a respected Japanese freelance journalist who went to report on Syria’s civil war last year.
The two hostages were filmed on video wearing orange jumpsuits and kneeling down, while a masked militant wearing black clothing and with a British accent stands behind them – making threats of killing them within the next 72 hours except the Japanese government coughs out $200 million.
The masked militant demands for $100 million for each of the hostages – because the Japanese government had been “foolish” enough to pledge $200 million as aids for Syrian and Iraq’s refugees, as well as to help the governments fight ISIS.
“To the prime minister of Japan: Although you are more than 8,000 and 500 kilometers (5,280 miles) from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade,” the militant says. “You have proudly donated $100 million to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims … and in an attempt to stop the expansion of the Islamic State, you have also donated another $100 million to train the (apostates).”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe while speaking in Jerusalem during a six-day visit to the Middle East vowed to work towards saving the captives. “Their lives are the top priority,” he said. “It is unforgivable. Extremism and Islam are completely different things.”
“If true, the act of threat in exchange of people’s lives is unforgivable and we feel strong indignation,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said in Tokyo. “We will make our utmost effort to win their release as soon as possible.”
Japanese authorities have said they will analyze the video to verify its authenticity, but US analysts identified the video as being made by the ISIS group’s al-Furqan media arm – and posted on militant websites linked with the main extremist group.
The Islamic State has shot dead or beheaded hundreds of Syrian captives and Iraqi soldiers, and they have often celebrated the killings on graphic videos posted on militant websites. A British-accented militant has been seen in a number of videos beheading American hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and with British hostages David Haines and Alan Henning among others.