3 days ago, ISIS posted up another familiar video with a masked British man, nicknamed ‘Jihadi John’, and 2 men dressed in orange, kneeling. However, this one came with a threat. ISIS told Japan to give the group $200 million within 72 hours or they would kill the men, named Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa.
According to CNN, Goto is a 47-year-old experienced freelance journalist who travelled to Syria, determined to cover what was happening in the region.
In April, Goto then met Yukawa, a 42-year-old depressed and suicidal widower who originally headed to the war-ravaged country early last year to learn combat and survival experience that would help him set up a private security company. Yukawa asked Goto to take him to Iraq, which Goto agreed to.
They went together in June, and Goto took Yukawa under his wing, teaching him everything he knew about how to survive in the dangerous territory.
Yukawa then went home to Japan in July on his own, but returned to Syria in July, leading to his capture by ISIS in August. Goto, who also returned home to Japan, felt responsible for Yukawa’s abduction, so he returned to Syria in late October to try to help his friend, according to Reuters.
ISIS asked for $200 million because Prime Minister of Japan Shinzo Abe pledged around $200 million in non-military assistance for countries battling the Islamic State.
ISIS also emailed Goto’s wife sometime in December, telling her they have her husband captive and demanding over 2 billion zen ($17 million), without saying anything about plans to kill her husband, Fox News stated. The money of course not be paid, but his wife did exchange multiple emails over the past few months.
While the Japanese government promised to put the two mens’ lives on the top of their priority list, they still refused to give in to the terrorist group’s demands or contact them to negotiate.
As the apparent deadline approached, Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, begged for her son’s life, saying,
“To all members of ISIS, Kenji is not the enemy of ISIS. Please release him. There is so little time left before the deadline. I have been just crying for the last three days, filled with sadness. Words fail to describe how I feel. Kenji always has been a kind person ever since he was little. He was always saying, ‘I want to save the lives of children in war zones.'”
While her appeal is heartfelt, it’s unlikely to faze the ruthless terrorist group. ISIS has an unforgivable track record. It has released videos showing 5 beheadings of Western hostages since August.
As the deadline passed today on Friday, estimated to be around 2:50 p.m., Tokyo time (12:50 a.m. ET Friday), the fate of the two kidnapped Japanese men is still unknown.
There are tweets saying that the hostages have been killed and the video will be released shortly, but there has been no official confirmation and no reaction from the Japanese government.
Digital Shadows, a cyber threat intelligence company, tweeted that they believe the two men have been killed.
— DIGITΛSHΛDØW (@DigitaShadow) January 23, 2015
A Twitter user claiming to speak for ISIS wrote that the two Japanese hostages, Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yakawa, have been executed due to Japan’s failure to pay the $200 million demanded for ransom. According to the tweet, a video of the execution has been “sent to production”.
We can only hope another gruesome beheading video of these poor men will not be released by ISIS and somehow these mens’ lives will be spared.