Japan: ‘We will never, never forgive’ ISIS for apparent beheading
(CNN) — He ventured to Syria to tell the stories of those whose lives have been torn apart by war.
But in doing so, Kenji Goto suffered his own gruesome fate — apparently becoming the latest foreigner to be decapitated by ISIS.
A newly distributed video from ISIS appears to show the beheaded body of the Japanese journalist. It came one week after a video surfaced featuring Goto holding a photo of what appeared to be the corpse of his fellow Japanese captive, Haruna Yukawa.
Just like ISIS’ previous beheading videos, the 67-second footage released Saturday was issued by the terror group’s media wing, Al Furqan Media. The video cannot be authenticated by CNN.
And now, Japan finds itself more deeply embroiled in the global fight against ISIS.
“We are deeply saddened by this despicable and horrendous act of terrorism, and we denounce it in the strongest terms,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said, according to broadcaster NHK. “To the terrorists, we will never, never forgive them for this act.”
Unlike the United States, Britain and other allies, Japan is not involved in the military campaign against ISIS. But Japan has been providing humanitarian aid in the Middle East as ISIS continues its bloody quest to solidify an Islamic state across parts of Iraq and Syria.
Abe said that Japan will continue providing humanitarian aid.
“We would like to expand our support for refugees,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. “We are surely going to have a necessary support in terms of not yielding to terrorism.”
U.S. President Barack Obama said the United States stands in solidarity with Japan “in denouncing this barbaric act.”
“We applaud Japan’s steadfast commitment to advancing peace and prosperity in the Middle East and globally, including its generous assistance for innocent people affected by the conflicts in the region,” Obama said in a statement.
‘Let the nightmare for Japan begin’
The ISIS video opens with a black slate that reads, “A Message to Japan.” It then shows a kneeling Goto wearing an orange outfit. The man known as “Jihadi John” is standing behind him.
The terrorist speaks in English while holding a knife in his left hand.
“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,” the man says. “So let the nightmare for Japan begin.”
The video cuts to black as the militant puts the knife to Goto’s throat. It then shows the apparent result of the decapitation. It’s not clear who conducted the apparent killing.
The knife-wielding masked man with a London accent has been nicknamed “Jihadi John.” He has appeared in at least six videos with hostages and has overseen the beheadings of other captives.
The race to save Goto’s life
The 47-year-old Goto left Japan last fall, when his youngest daughter was 3 weeks old. His wife, Rinko, first heard from his captors December 2.
On January 20, an ISIS video posted to social media showed Goto and Yukawa dressed in orange, kneeling in front of a masked, black-clad man.
In that video, the ISIS militant gives the Japanese government a choice to pay $200 million — the same amount of money Abe recently pledged for those “contending” with ISIS — to free the Japanese men within 72 hours.
Days later, a new message was posted featuring the voice of someone claiming to be Goto. Yukawa apparently was dead. And Goto would be too, the new message claimed, unless a new demand was met: ISIS wanted Jordan to free convicted terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi.
Suga said Japan tried to save both Yukawa and Goto.
“Since the beginning of the incident, we have been trying to use all kind of means and to do our best to save their lives by using our diplomatic route, as much as possible,” Suga said Sunday.
Jordan also said it did everything it could to free Goto in cooperation with Japan, government spokesman Mohammed Al-Momani told Jordan’s official Petra news agency Sunday.
Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, said her son wanted to help create a world without wars.
“I’m shedding tears of sorrow, I just can’t think of any words to say,” she said, according to Japanese broadcaster NHK. “But I don’t want this sorrow to create a chain of hatred.”
Jordanian pilot’s fate unclear
Adding to the web of ISIS demands, the terror group said it would kill a Jordanian pilot captured in Syria, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, if terrorist al-Rishawi was not released by Jordan.
If there was no swap, ISIS said, it would kill al-Kaseasbeh.
But the pilot’s fate remains unclear. He was not mentioned in the latest video.
Jordan will continue trying to secure the release of al-Kaseasbeh, the government spokesman told Petra on Sunday.
Officials are still seeking “proof of life” evidence that the military pilot is alive, he said.
CNN’s Yousuf Basil, Jennifer Deaton, Asoko Ferguson and Greg Botelho contributed to this report.