ISIS Video Shows Apparent Execution Of Kenji Goto, The Second Japanese Hostage It's Killed
Some terrible, grimly familiar news broke Saturday afternoon, and it's bound to send shockwaves through the nation of Japan — a new ISIS video shows the apparent execution of Kenji Goto, following up last week's execution of their other Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa. ISIS had been ostensibly leveraging Goto as ransom for the release of an Islamic militant and failed suicide bomber who's been imprisoned in Jordan for nearly a decade. But Saturday, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged that negotiations to secure Goto's freedom had "deadlocked," and before too long, yet another grisly video of a gory execution hit the internet.
These high-profile video releases have become a grisly calling card for the terrorist group over the last many months, with hostages hailing from different parts of the world all slain on camera, ostensibly in an effort to intimidate and inflame. Assuming the authenticity of the video, which has yet to be confirmed by relevant authorities, Goto joins Americans James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig, Britons Alan Henning and David Haines, and his fellow countryman Haruna Yukawa in being killed this way. A French mountaineer named Herve Gourdel was also beheaded on video after being kidnapped in Algeria, though it was carried out by a splinter group, not ISIS' mainline organization.
Just like Foley and Sotloff before him, the 47-year-old Goto was a journalist. For over 20 years, he showed the kind of bravery few among us have, reporting from active war zones and covering the plights of the oppressed and displaced people such conflicts created. Indeed, the entire reason he got caught up by ISIS militants in the first place speaks to his selflessness — he entered Syria, via Turkey, to try to secure Haruna Yukawa's rescue. Goto explained his rationale for covering the harrowing bloodshed in Syria to the Japanese newspaper Christian Today, just months before his disappearance.
The ‘front lines’ of my reporting are where people suffer the unbearable and yet where they are still trying to live. I want to be compassionate to people who are in the midst of hardship. They always have a message to tell. If I manage to find an outlet for their stories in the world, that might lead to a solution. Only then my job will be considered a success.
Goto leaves behind a mourning family — a wife and two children, as well as his mother, Junko Ishido, who made a heart-wrenching appeal for her son to be set free last Friday. Ishido had urged Japanese Prime Minister Abe to do whatever it took to bring her son home, even if meant paying the $200 million ransom that ISIS demanded, and said she'd offer her own life in return if she could.
I can only pray as a mother for his release. If I could offer my life I would plead that my son be released. It would be a small sacrifice on my part.
Now, it'll be crucial to see how the Japanese government responds, as well as its allies abroad. While ISIS' demands ultimately weren't met, and both of the country's citizens have apparently been slain, Japan did appear to engage more actively (or, at the very least, more publicly) in negotiating for Goto's release than the United States or Britain did when their citizens were under threat. President Barack Obama reportedly called Abe to offer condolences Saturday afternoon.