Yesterday, the Islamic State released a video they claim contains an image of the decapitated body of Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa. A second hostage, journalist Kenji Goto, appears in the video holding a photo of what ISIS claims is the remains of Yukawa, and in accompanying audio relays a proposed hostage trade.

Via the New York Times:

In the three-minute audio recording released Saturday, the voice of a man who claimed to be Mr. Goto said Mr. Yukawa had been “slaughtered” and blamed Mr. Abe’s failure to pay the ransom. (In the audio, the voice says he is Kenji Goto Jogo; it remained unclear late Saturday why that was different from the name given by the Japanese government and his own website.)

The audio is addressed to Mr. Goto’s wife, telling her that the Islamic State was now demanding the release of the woman imprisoned in Jordan, Sajida Mubarak al-Rishawi.

“They no longer want money,” the voice says in accented English. “You bring them their sister from the Jordanian regime, and I will be released immediately. Me for her. Don’t let these be my last words you ever hear. Don’t let Abe also kill me.”

Although officials are hesitant to deny the authenticity of the video, it did significantly differ from previous messages from the Islamic State. Fox explains:

The Associated Press could not verify the contents of the message, which varied greatly from previous videos released by Islamic State, which now holds a third of both Syria and Iraq.

Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said the audio was still being studied, but there was no reason to deny the authenticity of the video.

One militant on the Islamic State-affiliated website warned that Saturday’s new message was fake, while another said that the message was intended only to go to the Japanese journalist’s family.

A third militant on the website noted that the video was not issued by al-Furqan, which is one of the media arms of the Islamic State group and has issued past videos involving hostages and beheadings. Saturday’s message did not bear al-Furqan’s logo.

The militants on the website post comments using pseudonyms, so their identities could not be independently confirmed by the AP. However, their confusion over the video matched that of Japanese officials and outside observers.

As of today, Japan has not been able to reach the kidnappers or locate Goto, and has not indicated whether or not Prime Minister Sninzo Abe will attempt to negotiate with ISIS. Japan has, in the past, paid out ransom for the return of kidnapped citizens, and Abe is facing some social pressure to comply and avoid sinking Japan further into the crisis in the Middle East.


Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.