Figure speaking with a similar English accent to “Jihadi John” appears in an online video in which he demands $200m to spare lives of Japanese security contractor and a journalist
The British jihadist blamed for murdering five Western hostages in Syria is thought to have released a new video in which he demands a ransom for two Japanese captives.
A figure speaking with a similar English accent to “Jihadi John” appears in a broadcast released online in which he demands $200m to spare the lives of a Japanese security contractor and a journalist.
As with previous hostage videos released by Isil, the kidnapped men are shown wearing orange jumpsuits of the sort used by detainees in Guantánamo Bay. A knife-wielding man, dressed in black clothes and a black mask, tells the camera that Japan’s people should also pressurise their government to end its “foolish” financial support for the US-led coalition currently waging a military campaign against Isil.
“Otherwise this knife will become your nightmare,” the black-clad figure says in English.
The video is the first time in which the man believed to be Jihadi John has publicly asked for a ransom. Previous hostage videos and executions have been billed as retaliation to the US-led campaign against Isil.
Japan’s foreign ministry said it was aware of the broadcast, but declined to comment. It is believed that Japan may have secretly paid out ransoms for hostages in the past – including in Iraq – but the figure of $200m is well beyond what might considered a realistically negotiable sum. Similar demands were made in private for other Western hostages but turned down.
While Japan has not got troops involved in the campaign against Isil, it has pledged financial support. On a visit to Cairo on January 17, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pledged about $200 million in non-military assistance for countries battling the jihadist group, such as Iraq.
The two hostages’ identities have not been officially confirmed, but one is believed to be a private military contractor in his early 40s who was kidnapped in Syria last August, and the other is thought to be a Japanese freelance journalist who went to report on Syria’s civil war last year.
The man identified as Jihadi John has appeared in the beheading videos of British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning. He also appeared in similar videos featuring US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and Peter Kassig, an American aid worker.
British intelligence officials, who have been tasked by David Cameron with hunting Jihadi John down, are also examining the video for clues as to where it was shot.
A spokeswoman from the Foreign Office said: “We are aware of the video and we are studying the content.”