A Japanese freelance journalist has become the latest person to be executed by ISIS. The terror group released a video of Kenji Goto, 48, being beheaded on January 31.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. He Was Executed by ‘Jihadi John’
The terror monitoring group SITE first reported that ISIS had uploaded a video showing Goto’s execution. According to SITE, the video was “produced by IS’ al-Furqan Media Foundation.”
The video shows Goto wearing the same prison orange jumpsuit worn by other ISIS prisoners. The execution was performed by the man known as “Jihadi John.” In the video, the executioner says:
To the Japanese government: You, like your foolish allies in the Satanic coalition, have yet to understand that we, by Allah’s grace, are an Islamic Caliphate with authority and power, an entire army thirsty for your blood.
Abe, because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin.
Goto’s death comes 48 hours after a deadline given by ISIS for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi in Jordan was not met. In 2005, al-Rishawi was arrested for her part in a hotel bombing in the Jordanian capital of Amman that killed 60 people. Her suicide bomb didn’t explode but she was arrested soon after the explosion.
2. Goto Had Been in Captivity Since October 2014
Goto had been held by the Islamic State since October 2014. At the time of his capture, he was trying to save Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa who was seized by the group during the summer of 2014. ISIS had demanded $200 million from the Japanese government for Goto and Yukawa. The beheading of Goto comes one week after the death of Yukawa. Negotiations were believed to be deadlocked, the Japanese government had been using Iraqi tribal leaders to run interference with the Islamic State, reports the Guardian. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said his country is “outraged” by the killing of Goto, he also called it a “deplorable terrorist act.” As U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman, Bernadette Meehan, told the media, “We have seen the video purporting to show that Japanese citizen Kenji Goto has been murdered by the terrorist group ISIL. We are working to confirm its authenticity. The United States strongly condemns ISIL’s actions and we call for the immediate release of all remaining hostages. We stand in solidarity with our ally Japan.” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in the wake of Goto’s execution that his country will not give into terrorism.
3. He Was Killed the Day After His Wife Made a Plea for His Life to Be Spared
Goto’s execution comes a day after his wife made an emotional plea for his life. You can listen to it above. The message said:
My name is Rinko. I am the wife of Kenji Goto, the journalist who is being held by a group in Syria. He was taken from me on 25 October 2014, and since then I have been working tirelessly behind the scenes for his release.
I have not spoken out until now as I have been trying to protect my children and family from the media attention Kenji’s plight has created around the world.
My husband and I have two very young daughters. Our baby girl was only three weeks old when Kenji left. I hope our oldest daughter, who is just two, will get to see her father again. I want them both to grow up knowing their father.
My husband is a good and honest man who went to Syria to show the plight of those who suffer. I believe that Kenji may have also been trying to find out about Haruna Yukawa’s situation. I was extremely saddened by the death of Haruna and my thoughts go out to his family. I know all too well what they are going through.
I became aware that Kenji was in trouble on 2 December when I received an email from the group holding Kenji.
On 20 January I saw the video demand for $200m for the lives of Haruna Yukawa and Kenji. Since then, there have been several emails between the group and me as I have fought to save his life.
In the past 20 hours the kidnappers have sent me what appears to be their latest and final demand.
YOU MUST PUBLICIZE AND EXPOSE THIS MESSAGE TO THE WORLD MEDIA NOW! OTHERWISE KENJI WILL BE NEXT!
If Sajida is not on the Turkish border ready for the exchange for Kenji by Thursday 29th Jan at sunset (the deadline has since passed), the Jordanian pilot will be executed immediately!
I fear that this is the last chance for my husband and we now have only a few hours left to secure his release and the life of Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh. I beg the Jordanian and Japanese Government to understand that the fates of both men are in their hands.
I thank the Governments of Jordan and Japan for all their efforts. I thank the people of Jordan and Japan for their compassion. My family was based in Jordan when I was young, and I went to school in Amman until I was 12 years old, so I have great affection and fond memories of Jordan and its people.
Lastly I thank my family, friends and Kenji’s colleagues for the support they have shown my daughters and me over the last 3 months.
I pray for the lives of my husband and the Jordanian pilot Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh.
4. There Was No Mention in Goto’s Execution of the Fate of Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh
His execution comes as ISIS are believed to be in negotiations with the Jordanian government over the fate of another hostage, pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh. Just hours before the video of Goto’s death was released, the Associated Press reported that the Jordanian government were still seeking proof-of-life from ISIS over al-Kaseasbeh’s well being. The AP reports that there is pressure on the government from the Jordanian public to secure the release of al-Kaseasbeh. He’s the first Jordanian hostage to be taken by ISIS since the U.S. led coalition began striking the Islamic State. In a video released on January 27, ISIS claimed that Goto had “only 24 hours left to live” and Lt. al-Kaseasbeh had “even less.”
5. Goto Thought He Would Be Safe in Syria Because of Japan’s Neutrality
CNN reports that Goto was in Syria to get the story of “what ISIS wants to do.” In a video from October 2014, Goto explained that “Syrian people (have been) suffering for three years and a half. It’s enough. So I would like to get the story of what ISIS wants to do.”
Soon after that video was shot, Soto crossed the Turkish border into Syria. His destination was ISIS headquarters in Raqaa. His friend, Alaaeddin Al Zaim told Goto not to go to find ISIS. But Goto felt he was safe because Japan wasn’t at war in Syria. In October, he entered into an area where 200,000 people have been killed during Syria’s civil war.