Group releases video demanding $200m for release of two men and condemns Japan’s aid to Iraq and Syrian refugees.
Tokyo – As the clock ticks down to the end of the deadline ISIL has given the Japanese government to pay a massive ransom, the mother of hostage Kenji Goto, appealed for her son’s life, explaining: “My son is not an enemy of Muslims.”
Junko Ishido tearfully explained at a press conference on Friday morning in Tokyo that it was freelance journalist Goto’s sense of justice that originally led him to work in the Middle East.
On Tuesday, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group released a video threatening to kill Goto, 47, and another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, 42, unless they receive $200m within 72 hours, directly demanding the ransom from Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
The Japanese government considers the deadline to be 2:50 pm local time (0550 GMT) on Friday.
The video, identified as being made by ISIL’s Al-Furqan media arm was released shortly after Abe had pledged $200m in aid to countries to fight against ISIL.
Ishido on Friday described her son as someone who had maintained a long-term and sympathetic interest in the Islamic countries and who was helping the Japanese public to better understand the problems facing that part of the world.
“The reason he went [to Syria] was only to help a friend. He was always that kind of person, even as a child. He would look out for the children who were weaker than he was.”
Ishido offered to give her own life in the place of her son’s life.
“My own life is of very small worth,” she said, “If I could somehow offer my life up I would pray that my son be released.”
She added that irrespective of how the hostage crisis ends, she was willing to open her own home to Muslim students who wish to study in Japan.
When asked by reporters what stance she wanted the Japanese government to take in the face of ISIL’s demand for ransom, she declined to answer clearly, but said she hoped the Abe administration would make every effort on the hostages’ behalf.
She added that she had yet to be contacted by the Japanese government regarding her son’s kidnapping.
According to local media Jiji Press, Abe told the Japanese media on Friday that “the Cabinet is working at full power for the early release of the two people.”