The Japanese government says a video showing the apparent murder of hostage Kenji Goto appears to be genuine. The one minute-long footage was apparently released by Islamic State (IS) on Saturday evening. It purportedly shows the beheading of the Japanese freelance journalist and film-maker, who was a father of three.
The man was wearing an orange jumpsuit and the video was similar to previous beheading footage the militant group has released. The video was called “A Message to the Government of Japan” and the apparent murderer spoke with a British accent. He blamed Mr Goto’s beheading on Japan’s support for the US-led coalition fighting IS in the Middle East.
The kneeling hostage did not speak in the footage. The Japanese, UK and US governments strongly condemned IS, with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe visibly upset as he spoke to reporters in Tokyo. “I am extremely angry about these heinous and despicable terrorist acts. We will never forgive terrorists,” he said.”We will co-operate with the international community to make them atone for their crimes.”
US President Barack Obama said America condemned the “heinous murder” and would continue to work with allies to destroy the jihadist group. British Prime Minister David Cameron said it was a “further reminder that ISIL is the embodiment of evil, with no regard for human life”. And Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond, speaking in Sydney, added: “It is important that we do recognise that although the current challenge is focused around Iraq and Syria, we have to recognise that the underlying challenge of extremist Islamism is going to be with us for a long while.
“This is a generational struggle against this ideology and we are going to have to fight these battles not just in the Middle East, but in other parts of the world as well. There is nowhere that is safe from this challenge.” Speaking from her home in a suburb of Tokyo, Mr Goto’s mother Junko Ishido said: “Kenji has died, and my heart is broken. “Facing such a tragic death, I’m just speechless.”
The family of another IS hostage, Jordanian fighter pilot Lt Mu’ath al Kassasbeh, said they were “devastated” by Mr Goto’s murder. His uncle, Yassin Rawashda, has urged the Jordanian government to “tell us the truth”, amid concerns that they have not had an update on how negotiations for his release are going.
Mr Goto travelled to Syria in October seeking to secure the release of Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa, according to friends and business associates.