ISIS Video Threatens Japanese Hostages With Death Unless Shinzo Abe Hands Over $200 Million
On Tuesday, a disturbing video apparently posted by ISIS threatened two Japanese hostages. It's the terror group's first public video threat in two months, and the first one to feature non-Western hostages. The video features a black-clad militant similar to the one who appeared in past hostage videos who addresses the Japanese public and calls its government "foolish" for supporting the fight against the Islamic State. He threatens to kill the two men if the Japanese government doesn't pay $200 million in 72 hours.
In the video, the militant, who speaks in what appears to be a British accent, says:
The figure, $200 million, is the same that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged on Sunday to support those fighting against ISIS, which apparently prompted the group to make the video threat. The masked militant in the video also addresses Abe directly, saying, "Although you are more than 8,500 kilometers away from the Islamic State, you willingly volunteered to take part in this crusade."
This is the first time that ISIS has targeted Japanese hostages in one its high-profile videos, as previous ones featured either American, British, or French captives. Like the U.S. and Britain, Japan appears to be staying firm about not giving into their demands. Japanese government spokesman Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga issued a statement on Tuesday:
However, Suga did not confirm whether or not the government would pay the ransom and he said that officials were still verifying the authenticity of the video.
Prime Minister Abe issued a similar statement of defiance:
Abe, who is currently in Jerusalem as part of a six-day Middle East tour, had formally pledged to "help curb the threat ISIL poses" during a speech in Cairo on Sunday. Abe stated:
The two hostages in the video, who wear orange jumpsuits similar to those worn by previous captives, have been identified as Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yukawa. According to the Guardian, Goto is a freelance journalist and author in his late 40s who has written books on war and refugees. Yukawa had traveled to Syria last year to fight with Free Syrian Army rebels after trying to become a security consultant in Japan.
Tuesday's video isn't the first time Yukawa was featured as a hostage in a video believed to be made by ISIS. When Yukawa was captured in Syria in August, his captors released a video showing him bloodied and being interrogated. The video, however, was not the same message-style format that ISIS is gruesomely notorious for. Images: Getty Images (3)