ISIS have claimed to have beheaded the second Japanese hostage, Kenji Goto, in a video released on Saturday. It comes after negotiations with Tokyo had reached a “deadlock”.
The Japanese government, however, are studying the video in order to authenticate it after numerous media outlets have began questioning the authenticity of ISIS beheading videos.
The video shows a hooded man standing over Goto with a knife held to his throat. It then shows footage of a body with a head placed on it. In typical ISIS style, however, the actual execution is omitted. With a mysterious jump cut to the body at the end.
Earlier on Saturday, Yasuhide Nakayama – the head of Tokyo’s emergency response team in the Jordanian capital of Amman – told journalists that there had been no progress in attempts to negotiate the release of Goto and Maaz al-Kassasbeh, a first lieutenant in the Jordanian Air Force.
In the clip, the man – who calls himself Jihadist John and speaks in English with a British accent – addresses the Japanese government, blaming Tokyo for the slaughter. He said that Japan started an “unwinnable war,” and threatened its government with more violence.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s cabinet is set to hold a meeting in response to the video, while Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga has condemned the atrocity. “I cannot help feeling strong indignation that an inhuman and despicable act of terrorism like this has been committed again,” Yoshihide Suga said.
The US said it “strongly condemns” the actions of IS, and is working to confirm the authenticity of the video.
Previously, Tokyo agreed with the militants on an exchange of Goto for Sajida al-Rishawi, the Iraqi woman who killed 60 people in a 2005 Jordan bombing. A Jordanian government spokesman has also said that Amman is prepared to free Rishawi if its pilot is freed in return. Al-Kasasbeh was captured by the Islamic State in late December after his plane came down during an air raid by the US-led coalition.
Goto was captured by IS militants in October 2014 when he returned to Syria to search for his friend, Japanese national Haruna Yukawa. The latter was taken hostage by extremists in August.
On January 20, the militants published a video on several jihadist websites showing the two Asian men wearing orange fatigues and standing on their knees, while a masked man in black holds a knife. In the video, the militant group demands a $200 million ransom to be paid for the hostages’ lives within 72 hours – the same amount of money that Japan had pledged to pay to the US-led campaign against IS.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he will stand by his country’s commitment not to pay ransoms, adding that “this policy is unshakable and we won’t change it.”
As the 72 hours expired, IS released a video where Goto shows a picture of the beheaded body of his fellow captive on January 24. In the message addressed to the Japanese government, Goto said that the jihadist group now wants the release of Iraqi suicide bomber Rishawi.
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