Islamic State supporters release audio tape of purported Japanese hostage

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japanese islamic state hostage gotoOne of two Japanese men held hostage by Islamic State militants appeared in an audio recording released online Saturday.

Supporters of the Islamic State began distributing a link to a video clip that contained a static image of one hostage, identified as 47-year-old Kenji Goto Jogo, holding a picture depicting the apparent execution of a second Japanese hostage identified as Haruna Yukawa.

The accompanying audio clip features a man presumed to be Goto reading from a prepared statement in halted English. In the recording, the man blamed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for failing to act on an earlier ransom note in which Islamic State militants offered to release the hostages in exchange for a $200 million bounty.

According to the man in the recording, militants executed Yukawa after the deadline lapsed. The man says militants have made a new offer in which they would safely release Goto in exchange for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, a former al-Qaeda operative currently being held by the Jordanian government.

Analysts say the video, released Saturday evening Japan time on the website Archive.org and on YouTube, contains some irregularities compared to other electronic statements distributed by militants. The video lacks the official Islamic State flag, and the voice appearing on the recording sounds different from that of Goto heard in other news videos.

A graphic image purportedly showing the decapitation of Yukawa also appears different from other executions filmed by the Islamic State. Videos released by the militant group in the past have shown executions in a sandy remote area believed to be desert Iraq; however, the picture held by the man identified as Goto appears to shows Yukawa’s beheading on a dirt road near a grassy lawn.

The full transcript of the audio recording appears below:

I am Kenji Goto Jogo. You have seen the photo of my cell mate Haruna slaughtered in the land of the Islamic Caliphate. You were warned. You were given a deadline, and so my captives acted upon their words.

Abe, you killed Haruna. You did not take the threats of my captors seriously and you did not act within the 72 hours.

Rigo, my beloved wife, I love you and I miss my two daughters. Please don’t let Abe do the same for my case. Don’t give up. You along with our family, friends and my colleagues in the independent press must continue to pressure our government.

Their demand is easier. They are being fair. They no longer want money, so you don’t need to worry about funding terrorists. They are just demanding the release of their imprisoned sister Sajida al-Rishawi.

It is simple: You give them Sajida, and I will be released. At the moment, it actually looks possible. And our government are indeed a stone throw away. Now our government representatives are ironically in Jordan where they’re sister Sajida is held prisoner by the Jordanian regime.

Again, I would like to stress how easy it is to save my life: You bring them their sister from the Jordanian regime, and I will be released immediately. Me for her!

Rigo, these could be my last hours in this world, and I may be a dead man speaking. Don’t let these be my last words you ever hear. Don’t let Abe also kill me.