London, Jan 20:
The Islamic State (IS) jihadis, in a new video, have demanded a ransom of $200 million for the release of two Japanese hostages, media reported Tuesday.
According to a report in The Guardian, the one minute 40 second video took note of the multi-million dollar Middle Eastern aid package announced a few days ago by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“To the prime minister of Japan, although you are 8,500 km from the Islamic State, you willingly have volunteered to take part in this crusade,” the militant said in the video.
Standing between two kneeling hostages wearing orange jumpsuits and named Kenji Goto Jogo and Huruna Yukawa, a British-sounding militant dressed in the now familiar black robe and mask and brown leather gun belt, demanded that $100 million be paid for the life of each hostage within three days.
Standing on a hillside in a rocky desert, which appears to be similar to that of earlier hostage footage, he added: You have proudly donated $100 million to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims.
Gesturing with a knife to the man believed to be Goto, he said: So the life of this Japanese citizen will cost you $100 million.
Pointing at the man named on the screen as Yukawa, he said that it would cost the Japanese government another $100 million to save him.
The Guardian has so far been unable to verify the identities of the captives shown on screen.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga declined to say if Japan would pay the ransom.
Speaking in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Abe described the threat to kill the two hostages within 72 hours as unforgivable and demanded that the IS immediately release Goto and Yukawa.
Last week, at the beginning of his tour of the Middle East, Abe announced that Japan would be donating $200 million in non-military aid to countries fighting the IS in order to help build human capacities and infrastructure, which would be a part of the $2.5 billion in humanitarian and development aid for the Middle East.
It goes without saying that the stability of the Middle East is the foundation for peace and prosperity for the world, and of course for Japan, Abe said last week.
Should we leave terrorism or weapons of mass destruction to spread in this region, the loss imparted upon the international community would be immeasurable, he noted.
The video carried the logo of Al Furqan media, the IS propaganda organisation linked with every other beheading video featuring the alleged British IS militant. (IANS)