ISIS threatens to kill 2 Japanese hostages, demands $200 million ransom

by Staff, |
A masked person holding a knife speaks as he stands in between two kneeling men in this still image taken from an online video released by the militant Islamic State group on January 20, 2015. | REUTERS/Social media website via Reuters TV

JERUSALEM (Christian Examiner) -- ISIS released a video Tuesday threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless they receive $200 million in the next 72 hours, according to reports. The hostages, Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yukawa, are shown kneeling in orange jumpsuits while their kidnapper stands in black and makes menacing gestures with a knife.

The terrorist, who spoke English with a British accent, accused the Japanese government of supporting anti-terror. The masked man called Japan's $200 million pledge to help end terrorism "foolish," most likely referring to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's commitment to the Iraqi government and Syrian refugees.

"To the prime minister of Japan: Although you are more than 8,500 km (5,280 miles) away from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade," the militant said. "You have proudly donated $100 million to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of Muslims ... and in an attempt to stop the expansion of the Islamic State, you have also donated another $100 million to train the (apostates)."

He demanded "200 million" without specifying a currency, but an Arabic subtitle identified it as U.S. dollars.

Abe, speaking in Jerusalem on Tuesday towards the end of a six-day tour of the Middle East, said that saving Jogo and Yukawa is his "top priority." He also adhered to the United States' to abstain from associating the terrorists with Islam, saying "extremism and Islam are completely different things."

"We strongly demand the immediate release of the Japanese citizens unharmed," Abe said. "The international community needs to respond firmly and cooperate without caving into terrorism."

Japan's deputy foreign minister, Yasuhide Nakayama, will travel to Jordan to work on resolving the crisis, USA Today reported.

Goto is a freelance reporter who was based in Tokyo. He has written books on AIDS and children in war zones from Afghanistan to Africa and reported for news broadcasters in Japan.

Goto met Yukawa last year and helped him travel to Iraq in June, he told Reuters in August.

Yukawa, 43, traveled to Iraq and Syria last year after telling friends and family that he thought it represented a last chance to turn his life around.

It was not clear what exactly he was doing in the region. Yukawa's father, Shoichi Yukawa, declined to comment, saying he was overwhelmed by the news reports.