Tokyo: Sunday morning saw Japan plunge in shock and mourning as less than a week after beheading Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa, the Islamic State released a new video purportedly showing the killing of freelance journalist Kenji Goto.
The extremist group also threatened to carry out carnage whenever Japanese are found, saying, “Let the nightmare for Japan begin”.
The beheading video comes after the prisoner swap negotiations between Japan/Jordan and the Islamic State reportedly failed to reach any conclusion.
The 47-year-old Japanese journalist had gone to Syria last October to try to get Yukawa released, landing himself too, in trouble.
Japanese PM Shinzo Abe decried the murder calling it 'heinous and despicable'. Expressing his "indignation", Abe said, "I will never forgive these terrorists". He added that "Japan will work with the international community to bring those responsible for this crime to justice. Japan will not give in to terrorism".
"When I think of the grief of his family, I am left speechless," Abe said.
Kenji's mother Junko Ishido, who had earlier pleaded Japan's PM to negotiate with the ISIS to save her son's life, said she was heart broken. The aggrieved mother reportedly collapsed face-down after learning of the tragic news of her son's death.
“Kenji has left for good.. I am too upset to find the words to express myself. My son’s last act was to go to Syria to help a fellow Japanese (Yukawa). So I want people to understand my son’s kindness and courage,” local Japanese media quoted her as saying.
The PM has also assured that embassies across the world will be alerted to ensure the safety of Japanese citizens.
“I believe that the grief (over Kenji’s death) should not trigger a ‘chain of hatred."
As she spoke to reporters outside her home in Tokyo, she was mostly looking down and held her hand over heart.
"Kenji has died, and my heart is broken. Facing such a tragic death, I'm just speechless," said the distraught mother .
Kenji's murder has drawn international outrage as US, UK and France too condemned the ISIS. British PM David Cameron called the ISIS an embodiment of evil, and condemned the appalling murder of the Japanese hostage.
I condemn what appears to be the despicable and appalling murder of Kenji Goto. It is a reminder that ISIL is the embodiment of evil.
— David Cameron (@David_Cameron) January 31, 2015
According to the SITE Intel Group, the latest video is like previous beheading clips, as it has the stamp of al-Furqan Media (IS' media branch).
The video that lasts over one minute shows the British-accented IS fighter Jihadi John spouting threats to Japan before beheading Kenji.
The IS released a video of beheading Japanese hostage Kenji Goto Jogo pic.twitter.com/ZtLj2Q2Ffy
— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) January 31, 2015
#ISIS Jihad John:“To the Japanese government: "You, like your foolish allies ..have yet to understand that we,... thirsty for your blood."
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) January 31, 2015
Warning the Japanese government, the IS executioner hails the Islamic State as an “army thirsty for your blood”. Directly addressing PM Shinzo Abe, Jihadi John threatens they will carry more such acts whenever Japanese are found.
“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,” SITE group quoted him as saying.
“So let the nightmare for Japan begin,” he says before beheading Kenji.
The fate of another hostage – a Jordanian pilot – is not clear as there is no mention of him in the video.
In exchange of Kenji and the pilot, the Islamic State had earlier demanded the release of an Iraqi female bomber imprisoned in Jordan named "Sajida al-Rishawi". The ISIS had set Thursday sunset as the deadline for the female bomber's release in return for the Jordanian pilot. However, the negotiations for the prisoner swap, that were being led by Japanese Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama in Amman, deadlocked, he told reporters in Amman in yesterday.
Prior to that, the ISIS had given an ultimatum of 72 hours to pay a ransom of $200 million in return for the lives of two Japanese hostages, failing which they beheaded Yukawa.
Giving an ultimatum of 3 days to pay the ISIS had last week said that the ransom demanded was to compensate for Japan's 'stupid' support for the US-led coalition bombing the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
It can be noted that Japanese PM Shinzo Abe who is on a Middle East tour, had in Cairo pledged $200 mn in non-military aid to help the countries affected by the blood-smeared offensive by the ISIS in Syria and Iraq, in turn triggering mass exodus of refugees.
The Islamic State has earlier beheaded two US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig and also British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning.
The ISIS has also held British photojournalist John Cantlie as a captive, using him as a sort of spokesperson, as he has appeared in a series of ISIS propaganda videos.