Kenji Goto: Japanese, Jordanian hostages threatened in purported ISIS video
Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh was captured by ISIS in December
An online message purportedly from the Islamic militant group ISIS warned Tuesday that a Japanese hostage and Jordanian pilot the extremists hold have less than "24 hours left to live."
The message again demanded the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi woman sentenced to death in Jordan for involvement in a 2005 terror attack that killed 60 people. It also mentioned for the first time Jordanian pilot 1st Lt. Mu'ath al-Kaseasbeh, who is a captive of ISIS, setting a Wednesday afternoon deadline.
Tuesday's video matched a message released over the weekend, though neither bore the logo of the ISIS al-Furqan media arm. The weekend video showed a still photo of Kenji Goto holding what appears to be a photo of the body of Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa.
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The Associated Press could not independently verify either video. However, several militant websites affiliated with ISIS referenced the video and posted links to it late Tuesday afternoon.
The message says that unless the Jordanian government frees al-Rishawi within 24 hours, Goto and the pilot will be killed, adding that this would be the group's last message. The message warns any delaying tactics by the government will result in the death of both men.
Goto has only "24 hours left to live and the pilot has even less," the message said.
Japanese officials held emergency meetings after the video's release. Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said he had seen the video released, but did not comment on its authenticity.
"In this extremely tough situation, we are continuing as before to request the co-operation of the Jordanian government to work toward the immediate release of Mr. Goto," Suga said.
A Japanese envoy in Jordan, Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama, earlier expressed hope the two hostages would return home "with a smile on their faces."
"I hope we can all firmly work hard and join hands to co-operate, and for the two countries (Japan and Jordan) to co-operate, in order for us to see the day when the Jordanian pilot and our Japanese national Mr. Goto, can both safely return to their own countries with a smile on their faces," he told reporters late Monday night after another day of crisis talks in the Jordanian capital.
Japanese officials had no immediate comment on the new message.
Tuesday marked the first time a Japanese official mentioned al-Kaseasbeh, who has been held by ISIS after his Jordanian F-16 went down near the group's de facto capital of Raqqa in December. It wasn't immediately clear when the pilot's possible release had entered into the negotiations.
The 26-year-old Jordanian is the first foreign military pilot to fall into the extremists' hands since an international coalition began its aerial campaign against the Islamic State group in September. Jordan is part of the U.S.-led coalition targeting Islamic State militants in Syria.
Goto, a freelance journalist, was seized in late October in Syria, apparently while trying to rescue Yukawa, 42, who was captured by the militants last summer.
The weekend message retracted a demand for payment of $200 million in ransom for the two Japanese, made in an earlier online message. It threatened to kill Goto unless al-Rishawi was released.
Japanese officials have indicated they are treating the video released over the weekend as authentic and thus accepting the likelihood that Yukawa was dead.