ISIS Claims to Have Beheaded One of Hostages, Now is Asking for Prisoner Swap

ISIS Claims to Have Beheaded One of Hostages, Now is Asking for Prisoner Swap

The backstory to this event can be found here.

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*UPDATE 1/25 1pm EST: 

Japan’s prime minister Shinzo Abe said that the recent ISIS video claiming Haruna Yukawa, one of two Japanese hostages, has been beheaded appears to be genuine.

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A new video was released Saturday, in which ISIS claims to have beheaded one of the hostages, Haruna Yukawa. Now they are asking for a prisoner swap, so they can have their female would-be suicide bomber back.

Instead of their usual videos where they videotape the hostages being beheaded, this time they made a video of a still photo of journalist Kenji Goto Jogo holding a photo showing Yakawa beheaded, while Goto is doing a voiceover. The original graphic video was quickly deleted after it was posted, but you can watch the full video here with hostage Yakawa’s dead body completely blurred out.

Goto is heard speaking in English during the 2 minute and 52 seconds long video, saying:

“I am Kenji Goto Jogo. You have seen the photo of my cellmate Haruna slaughtered in the land of the Islamic Caliphate. You were warned. You were given a deadline, and so my captives acted upon their words.”

…”Their demand is easier. They are being fair. They no longer want money. So you don’t need to worry about funding terrorists. They are just demanding the release of their imprisoned sister Sajida al-Rishawi.”

Goto also speaks to his wife, telling her that he loves her and his two daughters very much. He is also heard pleading for his government to release Al-Rishawi to save his life.

Al-Rishawi is a would-be suicide bomber who took part in the 2005 Anman bombings but survived when her vest failed to detonate. She was convicted and sentence to death in Jordan in 2006 but is awaiting an appeal.

She was later shown on Jordanian TV confessing to participating in the attack, BBC reported. Jordanian police said she was the wife of one of three Iraqi male suicide bombers involved in the assault.

“My husband wore one (bomb) belt and I another — he told me how to use it,” she said, explaining that he took one corner of the hotel and she took another.

“There was a wedding in the hotel. There were women and children,” she said. “My husband executed the attack. I tried to detonate and it failed. I left. People started running and I started running with them.”

While Jordan and Japan are working closely with one another to authenticate the video, it is highly unlikely that Jordan will release Al-Rishawi because of their firm stance against negotiating with terrorists. ISIS hold one of Jordan’s own citizens captive as well.

USA Today reports that SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based organization that monitors extremist websites, said the video had been distributed across several Islamic State-linked Twitter accounts.

The video could not be independently verified. SITE has reported on several Islamic State videos in the past that proved authentic. The same video had been e-mailed to Goto’s wife, and it may have been meant only for her.

Patrick Ventrell, deputy spokesperson for the U.S. National Security Council, said the intelligence community “is working to confirm its authenticity.”

He said the U.S. strongly condemns Islamic State for its actions and called for the release of all remaining hostages. “The United States is fully supportive of Japan in this matter,” he said. “We stand in solidarity with Japan and are coordinating closely.”

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

A third militant on the website noted the video did not have the logo of al-Furqan, which is involved with ISIS media and has distributed past videos involving hostages and beheadings.

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