The terrorist group ISIS (Islamic State) released a video showing one of its militants saying that it will kill two Japanese hostages unless a ransom of $200 million is paid within 3 days.
The video was published on Tuesday on a few Islamist websites. The ISIS militants informed that they are demanding the same amount of money as what Japan pledged to pay the US-led campaign against ISIS.
The video shows two Japanese men dressed in orange fatigues standing on their knees with a masked man wearing black and holding a knife, stating the demand. According to the video, the hostages are identified as Kenji Goto Jogo and Haruna Yukawa.
As revealed by the Twitter account and website, Goto is an independent journalist. He has been covering various events in Syria.
The other Japanese hostage is identified as Yukawa, a 42-year-old Japanese private military contractor. According to the press releases, he was kidnapped in Syria in August.
The ISIS militant is said to be a British national. He was also featured in previous execution videos that ISIS released.
During its advances in Iraq and Syria, ISIS has released several videos showing executions of Western hostages. In November 2014, the US aid worker Peter Kassig was executed, In October 2014, UK aid worker Alan Henning was killed, In September 2014, UK aid worker David Haines was murdered and in August 2014, US-based journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff were slain.
The previous ISIS demands were political in nature; however, it has been reported that out of the public eye, current financial ransom demands are being negotiated.
The ransom policy of ISIS has recently changed, as proved by the release of Italian hostages Vanessa Marzullo and Greta Ramelli (female humanitarian workers) who were kidnapped in July, near Syria.
The women were released shortly after the video showing the hostages making a pledge to the Italian government was released by the militants. The Italian government has however said nothing publicly about how those women were freed, but some of the Arab media suggests that a ransom of Euros 12 million was paid to ISIS.
The subject of paying ransom to ISIS has become a genuine concern that is sensitive in nature as the US is pressurizing its allies in Europe not to facilitate such transactions. So far the majority of the Western hostages executed by ISIS are Americans.
According to a report published last year, various terrorist groups having connections with Al-Qaeda have netted $125 million at least from kidnap ransoms, since 2008, mostly from European governments.