Jordan says it is still ready to do a prisoner swap with IS militants for its captured pilot, even after a video was released purporting to show the killing of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.
Japan’s defence ministry confirmed that the video purporting to show the killing of Kenji Goto “has a high degree of credibility.”
The Islamic State group had said Goto, 47, was being held along with a Jordanian pilot. Efforts to win their release had focused on the possible release of an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber jailed in Jordan 10 years ago. The video did not mention the pilot.
The Iraqi woman, Sajida al-Rishawi was sentenced to death in Jordan for her involvement in a 2005 attack on a hotel that killed 60 people.
The video was released exactly a week after footage was released appearing to show the body of another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa.
“I feel strong indignation at this inhumane and contemptible act of terrorism,” Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in brief remarks to reporters in Japan at 6.40am local time. “I will never forgive these terrorists.”
“Japan will work with the international community to bring those responsible for this crime to justice,” Abe added, reiterating that Japan would not give in to terrorism.
The militant resembles and sounds like “Jihadi John” – a British militant involved in filmed beheadings by the Islamic State group. Addressing Abe, he said: “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.”
Jordan‘s security and military agencies have subsequently turned their efforts to see whether their pilot, Muath al-Kasaesbeh, was still alive.
Al-Kasaesbeh was seized by Islamic State after his jet crashed in north east Syria in December during a bombing mission against the militants.
Government spokesman, Mohammad al-Momani, told Reuters: “We are still ready to hand over the convict Sajida al-Rishawi in return for the return of our son and our hero.”
Foreign Secretary, Philip Hammond, condemned the apparent killing, saying they would stand alongside Japan against terrorism. In a statement, Mr Hammond said: “The apparent murder of Kenji Goto is a further demonstration of ISIL’s (Islamic State) 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.
ISIL’s brutality cannot be allowed to succeed. Philip Hammond
“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.”
Goto’s mother Junko Ishido, who earlier had appealed for his safe release, said, “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.”
Goto’s older brother, Junichi Goto, said, “I had hoped to give thanks for his return alive. But, as his brother, this outcome is very regrettable.”
On Friday, Goto’s wife Rinko, made an emotional plea for his release, saying that she feared “this is the last chance.”