The deadline for Japan to pay a $200 million ransom to Islamic State for the lives of two hostages has passed with no word from the terror group.
In a video released earlier this week, IS said it would kill two Japanese hostages, Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, if their country’s government did not pay the ransom.
The video featured a man believed to be ‘Jihadi John’, the black-clad man who has executed hostages in previous videos. He stood between the two men, who were dressed in orange jump suits, holding a kife, saying: “You now have 72 hours to pressure your government into making a wise decision by paying the $200m to save the lives of your citizens.”
Sky News reports that before the deadline passed, the mother of one of the hostages pleaded with Islamic State to spare her son. Junko Ishido, mother of Kenji Goto, said that her son was a friend of Islam: “I say to you people of the Islamic State, Kenji is not your enemy. Please release him.”
Japan’s Foreign Ministry has said the government is making every effort to secure the hostages’ release. “We have received offers of cooperation from various countries. We are continuing to analyse information,” said Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.
When asked whether Japan would pay the ransom, Mr Kishida remained defiant: “We will not give in to terrorism. We will fight against terrorism in cooperation with other countries.”