Islamic State gives ultimatum to Japan


“Jihadi John” stands before Kenji Goto Jogo and Huruna Yukawa and threatens Japan with their lives.

In a newly released video by one of the Islamic State’s media wings, Al Furqan, a familiar jihadist gives Japan an ultimatum regarding two Japanese citizens the group is holding hostage.

The short video, entitled “A Message to the Government and People of Japan,” shows a jihadist, which appears to be the infamous “Jihadi John,” standing before two kneeling Japanese prisoners. The hostages, which are identified as Kenji Goto Jogo and Huruna Yukawa, are set to be killed in 72 hours unless Japan pays a ransom of $200 million.

This ultimatum comes just days after Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, pledged $2.5 billion in non-military aid for the Middle East, including $200 million for those fighting the Islamic State. The jihadist group acknowledges this in the video by saying, “You have proudly donated 100 million to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims.” The jihadist then calls on Japan to pay $100 million for each captive within three days.

In a response to the ultimatum, Shinzo Abe said “Their lives are a top priority.” Abe continued with, “It is unforgivable. Extremism and Islam are completely different things. The international community will not give in to any form of terrorism and we have to make sure that we work together.” Additionally, chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said in a meeting in Tokyo that, “If true, the act of threat in exchange of people’s lives is unforgivable and we feel strong indignation. We will make our utmost effort to win their release as soon as possible.”

Huruna Yukawa, who was captured by the Islamic State back in August, was allegedly a security contractor before going to Syria. In a video post to social media when Yukawa was initially captured, he claimed he was a photographer according to a translation by SITE Intelligence Group. The other hostage, Kenji Goto, is a freelance journalist who has worked in various hotspots throughout the Middle East. His family lost contact with him in October and his wife reportedly received ransom demands of $8.5 million in November.

“Jihadi John” is the same Islamic State militant who beheaded James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Cawthorne Haines, Alan Henning, and Peter Kassig. The most recent release marks the first time the group has asked for a ransom payment in this line of videos.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.

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  • Birbal Dhar says:

    I think this is the first time a terrorist group issuing a ransom for hostages. It shows that ISIS is desperate for cash, because of the low oil prices and the bombardment of their forces by the US led coalition.

  • James says:

    My estimation is that we have now entered a particularly dangerous phase in the GWOT.
    These groups (IS and AQ) are now competing against each other (or, trying to ‘outdo’ each other) in seeing which one can commit the most brazen and horrific attacks.
    What might they be competing for? Answer: New recruits and fresh blood.
    As a good example, there are only so many of Putin’s rejects (i.e., the Chechnyens) to go around.

  • sundoesntrise says:

    “I think this is the first time a terrorist group issuing a ransom for hostages.
    What? Did I read that right?

  • Birbal Dhar says:

    @sundoesntrise I meant to say I think this is the first time a terrorist group issuing a ransom for hostages on video, but I forgot to add the “on video” to the sentence.


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