Japan mourns beheads journalist Kenji Goto
As Japan mourns following the apparent beheading of its journalist by ISIS, thousands of miles away, an anxious Jordan awaits the fate of its pilot.
Japanese journalist Kenji Goto went to Syria to tell the stories of lives torn apart by war.
He apparently became the latest foreigner killed by ISIS after a video distributed Saturday appears to show his beheaded body.
A week earlier, another video had shown Goto holding a photo of what appeared to be the corpse of his fellow Japanese captive, Haruna Yukawa, apparently beheaded by ISIS militants as well.
Japan and Jordan
Jordan and Japan got caught in the militants’ bloody crosshairs last month, when ISIS threatened to kill the two Japanese hostages unless Japan’s government paid a ransom of $200 million.
The militants revised their offer: Jordan should release female suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi.
Jordan countered with an offer demanding the release of Muath al-Kassasbeh, a Jordanian military pilot captured in Syria, in exchange for the suicide bomber. The militants have not said if that’s a consideration. ISIS said it would kill him if Jordan didn’t release al-Rishawi, a convicted terrorist.
Despite the counteroffers, the pilot’s fate remains unclear, and Jordan says repeated demands for the militants to prove the pilot is still alive have not yielded any results.
ISIS militants seized al-Kassasbeh was after his jet crashed in Syria in December. The 27-year-old holds the rank of lieutenant.
Militants say they captured him after he ejected from his crashing F-16 during U.S.-led coalition airstrikes near ISIS’ de facto capital, Raqqa.
Jordan’s role in the coalition is not popular in the nation, adding to the pressure for authorities to secure his release.
‘We will never, never forgive them’
World leaders condemned ISIS over the weekend as news of the latest apparent beheading spread.
“We are deeply saddened by this despicable and horrendous act of terrorism, and we denounce it in the strongest terms,” Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. “To the terrorists, we will never, never forgive them for this act.”
President Barack Obama described it as a “barbaric act” and said the United States stands in solidarity with Japan.
Kenji Goto in Aleppo, Syria, on October 24, 2014.
Japan not part of ISIS campaign
Unlike the United States, Britain and other allies, Japan is not involved in the military campaign against ISIS. But Japan has been providing humanitarian aid in the Middle East as ISIS continues its bloody quest to solidify an Islamic state across parts of Iraq and Syria.
And Japan said its efforts to provide humanitarian aid won’t stop.
“We would like to expand our support for refugees,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said. “We are surely going to have necessary support in terms of not yielding to terrorism.”
Race to save Goto’s life
Goto, 47, left Japan last fall, when his younger daughter was 3 weeks old. His wife, Rinko, first heard from his captors on December 2.
On January 20, an ISIS video posted to social media showed Goto and Yukawa dressed in orange, kneeling in front of a masked man dressed in black.
In that video, the ISIS militant issued a $200 million ransom demand to Japan in order to free the two men within 72 hours. That’s the same amount of money Abe recently pledged for those “contending” with ISIS.
Days later, a new message surfaced featuring what appeared to be the corpse of Yukawa. And Goto would also be killed, the new message claimed, unless Jordan freed al-Rishawi.
The militants carried out their threat Saturday.
Jordan to keep working on pilot’s return
Days after the video was released, an outraged Japan is mourning the two men whose deaths will plunge it deeper into the global fight against ISIS.
The pilot’s fate, on the other hand, remains unclear. He was not mentioned in the latest video showing Goto’s apparent beheading.
Jordan will continue trying to secure his release, government spokesman Mohammed Al-Momani told the Petra news agency.
Until then, the wait continues.
Two nations, forever linked by the fate of their sons.
CNN’s Holly Yan and Steve Almasy contributed to this report.