Published: Sunday 1st February 2015 by The News Editor
Prime Minister David Cameron has said Britain “stands united with Japan” after the Islamic State (IS) group released a video appearing to show the beheading of hostage Kenji Goto.
Freelance journalist Mr Goto, 47, is seen kneeling in front of the British-accented figure known as Jihadi John before gruesome footage of his decapitated body is shown.
It comes less than a week after news of the beheading of another Japanese man, Haruna Yukawa. IS, also known as Isil, had demanded a 200 million-dollar (£130m) ransom for the two men.
Mr Cameron said: “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, with no regard for human life.”
In the video, a masked man looks into the camera and says: “To the Japanese government: You, like your foolish allies in the Satanic coalition, have yet to understand that we, by Allah’s grace, are an Islamic caliphate with authority and power, an entire army thirsty for your blood.
“(Japanese prime minister Shinzo) 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.”
Japan’s deputy foreign minister Yasuhide Nakayama said earlier that efforts to free Mr Goto had been “in a state of deadlock”.
The Japanese government initially said it was trying to authenticate the video.
Mr Cameron added: “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Mr Goto and Mr Yukawa and the Japanese people as they come to terms with the murder of two innocent citizens in such a brutal manner.
“Britain stands united with Japan at this tragic time and we will do all we can to hunt down these murderers and bring them to justice, however long it takes.
“I welcome prime minister Abe’s steadfast commitment to continue Japan’s active role, working with international partners, to secure peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East.
“The humanitarian aid they are providing in the region is a vital part of helping the local communities that are being persecuted by the same Isil terrorists who murdered our innocent men.
“The Japanese government is right not to bow to terrorism. The way we will defeat Isil is not by giving in to these terrorists but by confronting them and their poisonous ideology.
“With determination and patience, we will work together with Japan and our other allies to extinguish this terrorist threat and to stand up for the values of tolerance and peace.”
Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: ” The apparent murder of Kenji Goto is a further demonstration of Isil’s contempt for human life. I extend my deepest sympathy to his family, friends and the people of Japan. We stand alongside them, united against terrorism.
As I have said before, Isil’s brutality cannot be allowed to succeed. We welcome and support Japan’s longstanding and continuing commitment to promoting peace and stability in the Middle East, including through substantial humanitarian assistance.”
Mr Goto, who is also a film-maker, went to Syria in October, reportedly to try to secure Mr Yukawa’s release.
No mention was made in the footage, titled A Message To The Government of Japan, about the fate of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh.
The militants had threatened to kill him unless failed suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi was handed over by Jordan by sunset on Thursday.
The one minute and seven second clip released today shows Mr Goto kneeling in a rocky gorge while the killer delivers a scripted message to the camera.
Last Saturday an audio recording emerged claiming to be of Mr Goto, again pleading for his release and explaining that Mr Yukawa had been killed.
The voice claimed that IS had changed its demands, instead asking for the release of Rishawi, who is currently on death row in Jordan.
Troubled Mr Yukawa, 42, was captured by militants near Aleppo, Syria, last summer.
He arrived in the Middle East after he was reportedly widowed and bankrupt, experienced homelessness, changed his name and tried to kill himself by cutting off his genitals.
Jordan and Japan have reportedly conducted indirect negotiations with the militants through Iraqi tribal leaders.
US officials said they too were trying to confirm the authenticity of the video.
Bernadette Meehan, a spokeswoman for the White House’s National Security Council, said: “We have seen the video purporting to show that Japanese citizen Kenji Goto has been murdered by the terrorist group Isil.
“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.”
The Japanese government expressed “extreme indignation” over yesterday’s online video.
Chief cabinet secretary Yoshihide Suga said the cabinet was convening an emergency meeting and described the video as a “deplorable terrorist act”.
Mr Goto’s mother Junko Ishido had previously issued a tearful appeal for her son to be released.
Speaking at a press conference last week, she said: “I say to you people of the Islamic State, Kenji is not your enemy. Please release him.
“Kenji was always saying, ‘I hope to save lives of children on battlefields’. He was reporting war from a neutral position.”
Mr Goto’s death is the latest in a growing list of foreign hostages apparently killed by Jihadi John.
It includes British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and American aid worker Peter Kassig.
Published: Sunday 1st February 2015 by The News Editor