Earlier this week, a video that is thought to have been produced by Islamic State militants surfaced, demanding that Japan pay a ransom of $200 million within 72 hours for the release of two Japanese hostages, Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who had recently visited the Middle East and pledged $200 million in non-military aid, vowed to not give in to terrorism. The 72-hour time limit came and went, and on Saturday a new video was posted claiming that one hostage, Yukawa, was killed. While Abe and the Japanese people are angry, experts are taking a closer look to verify the authenticity of the somewhat questionable video.

The new video purportedly features only still-images with what is presumed to be Goto’s voice dubbed over it. Goto claims that the terrorists killed Yukawa and that in the photo shown, he is holding a picture of Yukawa’s body. He begs for his release declaring the group’s new demands. Instead of the money, the militant group now wants a prisoner exchange: Goto for Sajida al-Rishawi, a female al-Qaeda suicide bomber who was captured in Jordan when her bomb failed to detonate in 2005.

Without question, Abe is furious that a Japanese citizen has been murdered, expressing to reporters that, “This act of terrorism is outrageous and unforgivable violence. I feel strong anger and firmly condemn it.” In the mean time, Japan’s deputy foreign minister, Yasuhide Nakayama, is in Jordan trying to coordinate rescue efforts.

While Abe is figuring out what to do, American and other experts are investigating the authenticity of the video. The still-image video-style used seems primitive compared to the militants’ past videos, which were made with significantly better production quality. Further, unlike past videos, this one does not feature the IS media logo. 

The video was also quickly deleted from the Internet, while posts on other ISIS affiliated websites claimed that the video was a fake, and another saying that the video was only meant for Goto’s family (and presumably the Japanese government).

It’s hard to say what will happen next. A lot depends on the authenticity of the video, the Jordanian officials keeping al-Rishawi, and Abe’s decisions moving forward.

Sources: BBC News, The Guardian
Screenshots via YouTube