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Japan will never forgive ISIS for apparent beheading of Kenji Goto ,the fate of Jordanian pilot Unclear

By Tajuddin
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Feb 1st, 2015
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ISIS Japanese hostages in Syria before beheadings

ISIS Japanese hostages in Syria before beheadings

Tokyo ( Agencies + DIPLOMAT.SO) – Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Sunday he is “infuriated” by the purported beheading of journalist Kenji Goto by the Islamic State group and vowed to hold the terror group responsible.

“I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism,” Abe told reporters after convening an emergency Cabinet meeting.

“When I think of the grief of his family, I am left speechless,” he said. “We are filled with deep regret.”

“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.

Japan ordered heightened security precautions Sunday and said it would persist with its non-military support for fighting terrorism.

Threats from ISIS prompted an order for tighter security at airports and at Japanese facilities overseas, such as embassies and schools, government spokesman Yoshihide Suga said.

He said it would be “inappropriate” to comment on the status of the Jordanian pilot.

The failure to save Goto raised fears for the life of the pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, also held by the militant group that controls about a third of both Syria and Iraq. Unlike some earlier messages delivered in the crisis, the video that circulated online late Saturday purporting to show a militant beheading Goto did not mention the pilot.

Jordan renewed an offer Sunday to swap an Al Qaeda prisoner for al-Kaseasbeh, who was seized after his F-16 crashed near ISIS’ de facto capital, Raqqa, Syria, in December.

Government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani told The Associated Press that “we are still ready to hand over” Sajida al-Rishawi, who faces death by hanging for her role in triple hotel bombings in Jordan in 2005.

Al-Momani also said his country spared no effort to free Goto.

Undated photo for Japanese freelance Journalist Kenji Goto with Syrian children in Aleppo

Undated photo for Japanese freelance Journalist Kenji Goto with Syrian children in Aleppo

The slaying of Goto, a freelance reporter whose work focused on refugees, children and other victims of war, shocked this country, which until now had not become directly embroiled in the fight against the militants.

With no updates for days, al-Kaseasbeh’s family appealed to the government for information on his situation. But for Goto’s family and friends, the beheading shattered any hopes for his rescue.

“Kenji has died, and my heart is broken. Facing such a tragic death, I’m just speechless,” Goto’s mother Junko Ishido told reporters.

“I was hoping Kenji might be able to come home,” said Goto’s brother, Junichi Goto, in a separate interview. “I was hoping he would return and thank everyone for his rescue, but that’s impossible, and I’m bitterly disappointed.”

According to his friends and family, Goto traveled to Syria in late October to try to save Haruna Yukawa, 42, who was taken hostage in August and who was shown as purportedly killed in an earlier video.

“He was kind and he was brave,” said Yukawa’s father Shoichi. “He tried to save my son.”

“It’s utterly heartbreaking,” he said, crying and shaking. “People killing other people — it’s so deplorable. How can this be happening?”

Abe vowed to continue providing humanitarian aid to countries fighting ISIS. Bowing to terrorist intimidation would prevent Japan from providing medical assistance and other aid it views as necessary for helping to restore stability in the region, he and other officials say.

But the government spokesman, Suga, said Abe would not link the hostage crisis to his efforts to expand Japan’s military role in “collective self-defense” with the U.S. and other allies.

The White House released a statement in which President Barack Obama also condemned “the heinous murder” and praised Goto’s reporting, saying he “courageously sought to convey the plight of the Syrian people to the outside world.”

The White House said that while it isn’t confirming the authenticity of the video itself, it has confirmed that Goto has been murdered. Japan also has deemed the video highly likely to be authentic, said the defense minister, Gen Nakatani.

Highlighted by militant sympathizers on social media sites, the video bore the symbol of the Islamic State group’s al-Furqan media arm.

In Jordan late Saturday night, relatives and supporters of the pilot held a candlelit vigil inside a family home in Karak, al-Kaseasbeh’s hometown in southern Jordan.

We “decided to hold this protest to remind the Jordanian government of the issue of the imprisoned pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh,” said the pilot’s brother Jawdat al-Kaseasbeh, holding picture of Muath with a caption: “We are all Muath.”

Al-Kaseasbeh’s uncle, Yassin Rawashda, said the family just wants to be kept informed.

“We want to know how the negotiations are going … in a positive direction or not. And we want the family to be (involved) in the course of negotiations,” he said.

Jordan and Japan reportedly conducted indirect negotiations with the militants through Iraqi tribal leaders, but late on Friday the Japanese envoy sent to Amman to work on the hostage crisis reported a deadlock in those efforts.

The hostage drama began more than a week ago when the militants threatened to kill Goto and Yukawa in 72 hours unless Japan paid $200 million.

Later, the militants’ demand shifted to seeking the release of al-Rishawi, who survived the 2005 attack that killed 60 people when her explosive belt failed to detonate in the worst terror attack in Jordan’s history.

The deadline for that exchange passed without word, leaving the families of the pilot and journalist waiting in agony. Al-Rishawi has close family ties to the Iraq branch of Al Qaeda, a precursor of the Islamic State group.

Family of Jordanian pilot held by ISIS demand word

Worried relatives of a Jordanian fighter pilot held hostage by the Islamic State have asked their government to be more open about negotiations for his release.

The family has become more concerned about pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, after a second hostage held by ISIS was shown beheaded in a video purportedly from the militants. The pilot and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto had been linked together and ISIS made no comment of the fate of Kaseasbeh.

Uncle of the pilot, Yassin Rawashda, said Sunday that “we want the government to tell us the truth.” He also says the family wants to know where the negotiations are headed.

The pilot’s father Safi al-Kaseasbeh says any developments make him more nervous. But he is still putting faith into his government.

Jordan is reportedly conducting indirect, behind-the-scenes negotiations through tribal leaders in neighboring Iraq. The Islamic State group holds about a third of Iraq and Syria.

Last week, Jordan offered to swap an Al Qaeda prisoner on death row for the pilot, but there was no mention of ISIS considering the deal. A message purportedly from the militant group said that the pilot would be killed if the prisoner, Sajida al-Rishawi, was not delivered to the Turkish border by Thursday.

The deadline passed after Jordan refused to release the prisoner without proof of the pilot being alive.

Al-Kaseasbeh was captured in December when his F-16 crashed near the de facto capital of the Islamic State group. The militants control about a third of both Syria and neighboring Iraq in a self-declared caliphate.

Jordan, a staunch Western ally, is part of a U.S.-led military coalition that has carried out airstrikes against Islamic State group targets since September.

King Abdullah II says the campaign against the extremists is a battle over values, but participation in the airstrikes is not popular among Jordanians. The hostage crisis has prompted more vocal criticism of the government position.

Goto , 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 DIPLOMAT NEWS NETWORK.

And now, Japan finds itself more deeply embroiled in the global fight against ISIS.

“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.”

This still image taken from video released by the Islamic State's branch in Raqqa, Syria, shows the capture of Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot shot down over Syria a month ago. The militant group has threatened to kill the pilot and a Japanese hostage within 24 hours.

This still image taken from video released by the Islamic State’s branch in Raqqa, Syria, shows the capture of Lt. Moaz al-Kasasbeh, the Jordanian pilot shot down over Syria a month ago. The militant group has threatened to kill the pilot and a Japanese hostage within 24 hours.

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.

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