Japanese journalist taken hostage in Syria appears to be on the chopping block

A new image believed to be that of Japanese freelance journalist, Jumpei Yasuda who went missing in Syria last year, surfaced Sunday night, depicting a bearded man holding a sign bearing the message “Last chance to help me.” He is believed to have been captured by al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate.

By “help me,” he means ‘pay the ransom,’ which the Japanese government refused to do when two other Japanese journalists were captured by ISIS last year, and eventually killed.

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Japan Times  A person knowledgeable about Yasuda’s case said the image was sent to multiple media outlets by someone who claims to be a mediator for a group that captured the 42-year-old. That person asserts that Yasuda is being held by the Nusra Front, an al Qaida-linked anti government terrorist group in Syria, the source said, adding that the photo is said to have been taken by the group on Saturday.

A video was posted on Facebook in March(below), indicating he could be a hostage of terrorists in Syria. A Syrian man who uploaded the video said the video was received from a person representing the Nusra Front.

The man also said the group had repeatedly contacted the Japanese government to seek a ransom in exchange for Yasuda’s release, and that the video was released after Tokyo demanded proof he was alive and being detained by the group. According to the man, the Nusra Front has threatened to hand Yasuda over to ISIS terrorists if the Japanese government won’t negotiate.

ISIS beheading of Kenji Goto:

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Last year, Japanese journalist Kenji Goto was beheaded by the Islamic State group, which also put up a gory video showing the execution. Another Japanese national, Haruna Yukawa, was also beheaded by ISIS after the Japanese government did not heed to their demand of a $200 million ransom.

From March 2016 (transcript below)

TRANSCRIPT:
“Hello, I am Jumpei Yasuda and today is my birthday, 16 March. They told me that I can speak what I want freely. And I can send a message through this to anyone. I love you my wife, father, mother, brother. I always think about you. I want to hug you. I want to talk with you but I can’t anymore. Just I can say: Please take care. My life, 42 years, all was good, especially since eight years, so happy. I have to say to something to my country: When you’re sitting there, wherever you are, in a dark room, suffering with the pain, there’s still no one. No one answering. No one responding. You’re invisible.You are not exist. No one care about you.”

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