Update, Saturday, 12:32 p.m. EST: The White House has released a statement condemning the alleged action of the Islamic State group, formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS, in killing Haruna Yukawa and saying the U.S. is still attempting to confirm the authenticity of the video that reportedly shows the slaying.
“We have seen the video purporting to show that Japanese citizen Haruna Yukawa has been murdered by the terrorist group ISIL,” Patrick Ventrell, a U.S. National Security Council representative, said in the statement. “The intelligence community is working to confirm its authenticity. The United States strongly condemns ISIL’s actions, and we call for the immediate release of all the remaining hostages. The United States is fully supportive of Japan in this matter. We stand in solidarity with Japan and are coordinating closely.”
Original Article Appears Below
The Islamic State group allegedly has carried out its threat to kill a Japanese hostage after Japan did not pay a $200 million ransom within 72 hours to save the lives of Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto. The militant group released a video of Goto purportedly confirming Yukawa’s beheading, according to a tweet posted Saturday by the SITE Intel Group based in Bethesda, Maryland, which has confirmed other Islamic State beheading videos in the past. The terrorist group’s latest beheading video came days after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed to protect the hostages from the militant group formerly known as either ISIL or ISIS.
The Islamic State group released a video Tuesday with a masked British-accented captor dressed in black demanding a ransom of $200 million -- a figure matching the amount that Abe pledged in nonmilitary aid to Middle East countries for fighting the terrorist group. The captor is suspected of being the same one involved in the first video the militant group released last August showing American James Foley captive and his subsequent beheading. Four other videos showing Americans and British nationals meeting the same fate were released in recent months.
This is believed to be the Islamic State group’s sixth beheading video involving citizens of countries fighting its growing campaign in Iraq and Syria, and the first with Japanese captives. This also represented the first time the militant group made a cash demand in a video. Abe had said he would not “give in to terrorism” -- but also had vowed to do what he could to save the hostages.
— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) January 24, 2015
He sought help from Middle East leaders and attempted to contact the Islamic State group through third parties, such as regional governments and local tribal leaders, as the Friday ransom deadline approached, but was ultimately unable to bring Yukawa back home.
The two hostages were captured separately months ago. “They kept Yukawa and Goto locked up ... waiting for Japan to announce their role in the fight against ISIS,” James Simpson, a Tokyo-based analyst, told the Japan Times.
In the new video circulated Saturday, Goto holds a photo that purportedly shows Yukawa’s dead body. “I am Kenji Goto Jogo,” Goto says in the video. “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.”
Goto says in the video the Islamic State group has changed its ransom demand and now seeks the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a female suicide bomber who attacked a hotel in Jordan in 2005, instead of money. “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 says in the video, as recounted by USA Today.