The Islamic State released a video Saturday purportedly showing the beheading of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto and warning the Tokyo government of “carnage wherever your people are found.”.
There was no immediate word on the fate of a second hostage, Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh.
The grim video of the apparent beheading of Goto was released via militant websites and bore the symbols of previous Islamic State tapes. It could not be immediately independently confirmed by USA TODAY.
SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-Based organization that monitors terrorist activity online, also reported on the video, which was released late Saturday.
The video shows a masked militant clad in black and brandishing a knife while Goto, wearing an orange jumpsuit, kneels in front of him. Speaking in British-accented English, the militant appears to be the same person seen in previous Islamic State, also known as ISIL or ISIS, videos and dubbed by Western terror analysts as “Jihad John.”.
“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,” the militant said.
At one point, he addressed Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe directly.
“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.”.
In Tokyo, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed outrage Sunday over the video.
“I feel indignation over this immoral and heinous act of terrorism,” Abe told reporters after convening an emergency Cabinet meeting. He vowed that Japan will not give in to terrorism and will continue to provide humanitarian aid to countries fighting the Islamic State extremists.
Goto, 47, was captured in October after going into Syrian territory to try to secure the release of another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa. The well-known freelance journalist was shown in an Islamic State video last week holding a photo that purported to depict Yukawa’s body and included a demand of $200 million ransom for Goto’s own release.
U.S. Officials said they were trying to confirm the authenticity of the latest video.
Bernadette Meehan, a spokesperson for the White House’s National Security Council said 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.”.
President Obama condemned the “heinous” killing of Goto, whom he said “courageously sought to convey the plight of the Syrian people to the outside world.”.
In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry called the beheading of Goto “barbaric” and said it “shows again ISIL’s brutality and extremist agenda.”.
Prior to the release of the video, Japan’s deputy foreign minister, Yasuhide Nakayama, said only that efforts to free Goto were “in a state of deadlock.”.
An audio message purportedly posted online by the group earlier this week had warned that al-Kaseasbeh, the Jordanian pilot, would be killed if Sajida al-Rishawi, an al-Qaeda prisoner, was not delivered to the Turkish border by sunset on Thursday, Iraq time. The deadline passed without any public word from the group, which has taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria.
Jordan had offered to release al-Rishawi — on death row over her role in the bombing of an Amman hotel in 2005 that killed 60 people — but insisted first that it receive proof the pilot was still alive. Reports regarding the negotiations with Jordan did not include any mention of Goto.
The parents of Goto and al-Kaseasbeh had appealed for their governments to secure their release in recent days. Goto’s wife, Rinko Jogo, said late Thursday she had exchanged several e-mails with her husband’s captors, and that in the past 20 hours she had gotten one that appeared to be their final demand.
She urged the Japanese and Jordanian governments to complete the exchange that would free both hostages. “I beg the Jordanian and Japanese governments to understand that the fates of both men are in their hands,” she said.
The talks became increasingly clouded as the militants dropped their initial demand for $200 million ransom and instead sought the release of al-Rishawi.
Any exchange would have run counter to Jordan’s hard-line approach toward Islamic militants that, like it’s U.S. Ally, has included a refusal to negotiate with extremists. A swap would also set a precedent for negotiating with a militant group that previously has not publicly demanded prisoner releases.
Contributing: The Associated Press.
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