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.
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