Delicate negotiations are set to take place on Tuesday between the Japanese government, alongside its Jordanian counterpart, with ISIS, in a frantic bid to secure the release of two individuals from the countries taken hostage by the extremist group. But on Tuesday morning in an alarming message allegedly from the extremist group, ISIS gave the Japanese and Jordanian hostages under 24 hours to live, despite late Monday's remarks by the Japanese envoy expressing hope of the ISIS hostages' return "with a smile on their faces" in the midst of mounting criticism over its government's handling of the hostage crisis.
In an audio message released online on Tuesday, the Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto, pleaded for both governments to give in to ISIS' demands of a prisoner exchange. Goto appeared to repeat the group's calls for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a female suicide bomber dispatched by al Qaeda in Iraq to attack a hotel in Jordan in 2005, and said that he and the Jordanian pilot would be killed should al-Rishawi not be released within 24 hours. According to the German Press Agency, DPA, Goto said in the message:
Her for me, a straight exchange. Any more delays by the Jordanian government will mean they are responsible for the death of the pilot which will then be followed by mine. I only have 24 hours left to live, and the pilot has even less.
The purported ISIS warning is a monstrous contradiction of the Japanese representative Yasuhide Nakayama's statement the day before that indicated a progress of some sort in negotiations. Nakayama, the Deputy Foreign Minister and lawmaker sent to Amman to organize efforts to save two Japanese hostages, Goto and Haruna Yukawa (though the latter is since feared to have been executed by ISIS), told reporters on Monday:
I hope we can all firmly work hard and join hands to cooperate between the two countries (Japan and Jordan), in order for us to see the day when the Jordanian pilot and our Japanese national Mr. Goto can both safely return to their own countries with smiles on their faces.
The statement was a first in a Japanese official's mention of Jordanian pilot First Lieutenant Moaz al-Kasasbeh, whose plane had been gunned down by ISIS in December.
Tuesday's message matched an ISIS video released on Saturday featuring Goto holding a photo showing Yukawa's alleged body. Neither message has been able to be verified by several news sources, nor do they bear the logo of ISIS' media subdivision, though multiple militant websites affiliated with ISIS referenced Tuesday's video and posted links to it late afternoon, reported USA Today.
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