An online video released today purports to show the Islamic State (IS) group threatening to kill two Japanese hostages unless they receive a $200m (€173m) ransom in the next 72 hours.
The video, identified as being made by the group’s al-Furqan media arm and posted on militant websites associated with the extremist group, mirrored other hostage threats made by IS.
The man speaking also resembled and sounded like a British militant known as “Jihadi John” involved in other beheadings by IS group, which now holds a third of Iraq and Syria under its self-declared caliphate.
The video shows two hostages in orange jumpsuits that the militants identify as being Japanese.
The militant with a British accent in the video said the Japanese were targeted for supporting Western military efforts against it.
“You have proudly donated $100m (€86.2m) to kill our women and children, to destroy the homes of the Muslims,” the militant says.
A British-accented jihadi also has appeared in the beheading videos of dead American hostages James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and with British hostages David Haines and Alan Henning.
In August, a Japanese citizen, believed to be a 42-year-old private military company operator, was kidnapped in Syria. His reason for going to Syria remains unclear.
The Japanese foreign ministry is believed to be working to win his release, but has declined to offer any details.
IS has beheaded and shot dead hundreds of captives – mainly Syrian and Iraqi soldiers – during its sweep across the two countries, and has celebrated its mass killings in extremely graphic videos.
It also holds British photojournalist John Cantlie, who has appeared in other extremist propaganda videos, and a 26-year-old American woman captured last year in Syria while working for aid groups. US officials have asked that the woman not be identified out of fears for her safety.