More than a week has passed since terrorist organization ISIS released its first video of Japanese hostages Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto. Days later, in a second video, a voice believed to be Goto’s was heard stating that Yukawa had been killed by the terrorists.
Now, a third statement has been released, in which a man identifying himself as Goto says that he has only 24 hours left before he will be murdered as well.
Initially, the terrorist organization had sought a ransom of US$200 million for the release of the two Japanese nationals. Following the purported execution of Yukawa, the group retracted that demand, replacing it with the offer of a one-to-one prisoner exchange of Goto for Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi. Sajida al-Rishawi is a confessed attempted suicide bomber who has been imprisoned by the Jordanian authorities since 2006 and is awaiting a death sentence for her failed role in the 2005 Ammam Hotel bombings that left 60 people dead.
In the newest video, released by ISIS on January 27, the man claiming to be Goto says that he has only 24 hours left. He goes on to say that this will be the last message his captors will allow him to voice, and that they have informed him that his release is being prevented by delays by the Jordanian government in setting al-Rishawi free from imprisonment.
The newest statement also ties Goto’s fate to that of captured Royal Jordanian Air Force Lieutenant Muadh al-Kasasbeh. The pilot’s F-16 crashed during a coalition air strike on terrorist targets in Syria in late December, whereupon he was captured while leaving the wreckage of his plane. In what is clearly a ploy to force the Jordanian public into applying pressure to their government, the latest video includes the provision that if al-Rishawi is not promptly released, al-Kasasbeh will be executed first, followed by Goto.
The Japanese and Jordanian government are coordinating with one another as they investigate the proper response, and no doubt the people of both nations are fervently hoping for the safe return of their countrymen.