On Tuesday, a video emerged with some familiar imagery: a masked fighter standing against a desert backdrop with orange-clad captives kneeling below him. Jihadi John, as he is known, demanded that Japan pay $200 million within 72 hours or Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa, two Japanese prisoners of ISIS, would be executed.
That deadline has now passed, although Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would try to save the men. And while their fates are currently unclear, the citizens of Japan have declared meme warfare on the Islamic State, which is itself known for its social media presence.
A hashtag roughly translating to "ISIS crappy collage grand prix" has been used more than 220,000 times, according to data from Sysomos, to mercilessly mock what is clearly an extremely serious situation. Stills from the video have been altered into images that are super-kawaii, surreal, or anime-referencing.
Jihadi John, or Jailer John, as he's been deemed by the press, is the head of a group of Sunni Muslims whom past prisoners have said call themselves "the Beatles." He has a British accent, and his name is apparently—and oddly—a reference to John Lennon. He's wanted by the United States, the UK, and Canada for beheading five people.
"Our country will not be intimidated by terrorism, and there is no change to our policy of contributing to the international community's fight against terrorism," government spokesperson Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo when the ransom video surfaced.
But the Japanese population's response can best be summed up by one fan of the crusading trolls. "You can kill some of us, but Japan is a peaceful and happy land, with fast Internet," Japanese Twitter user jlist wrote. "So you can go to hell."
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