January 31, 2015
Al Furqan the media wing of ISIS released a video Saturday showing the beheading of Kenji Goto, the second Japanese hostage held by ISIS. The 1 minute and few seconds video, opens with “A message to Japan,” followed by the image of a kneeling Goto in an orange outfit typical of one worn by previous ISIS hostages.
Earlier in the week ISIS had warned it would carry out the beheading of Muath al-Kaseasbeh, a Jordanian Pilot captured by the group, if the Jordanian authorities fail to swap Sajida Rishawi, the woman convicted of terror activities in Jordan for the release of Goto.
Jordan had agreed to release Rishawi in exchange for the Jordanian pilot but demanded proof of life from the militant group to which ISIS is yet to respond. Saturday’s video made no mention of the Jordanian pilot creating fear he could suffer same fate as the Japanese Journalist.
Before the new video surfaced, the Japanese government met with Jordanian authorities to win the release of Goto through a prisoner swap. In Jordan however, public opinion was mostly in favor of releasing the Jordanian pilot in exchange for Rishawi, many believe the release of Goto has nothing to do with Jordan but the problem of Japan.
The militant on the new video looked and sounded like Jihadi John, with the same British accent heard on earlier beheading videos. Goto said nothing in the entire video as Jihadi John once again directed his message to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
“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,” he said.
The new threat from ISIS means Japan is now the target of the group and is unwillingly dragged into a war it did not intend to engage in. After the beheading of Haruna Yukawa first Japanese killed by the group, hope rose in Japan that the government might secure release of the second Japanese after ISIS’ demand for a prisoner swap. With Goto’s demise and the new threat, many believe public opinion will turn against the government of Mr. Abe for getting Japan involved.
“We are deeply saddened by this despicable and horrendous act of terrorism and we denounce it in the strongest terms,” said Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo via NHK. “To the terrorists, we will never, never forgive them for this act.”
Responding to news of the beheading, White House National Security Spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan, said: “We have seen the video purporting to show that Japanese citizen Kenji Goto has been murdered by the terrorist group ISIL. (Using an alternate acronym for the group) The United States strongly condemns ISIL’s actions and we call for the immediate release of all the remaining hostages. We stand in solidarity with our ally Japan.”
With the hope of ever getting back Goto now dashed, it is clear the militant group is unwilling to swap two prisoners for Rishawi and therefore, prefer to do away with Goto knowing the Jordanian authorities won’t give up Ashrawi without the pilot’s release.
Meanwhile, the knife-wielding Jihadi John continues to threaten global security and remains unstoppable. It is unclear who is next victim of ISIS’s knife and all the U.S. and rest of the world can do is wait for ISIS to release its video of the next murder.