Islamic State beheads second Japanese hostage


“Jihadi John” stands before Kenji Goto Jogo shortly before beheading him.

The Islamic State has beheaded the last of the Japanese hostages it was holding. Freelance journalist Kenji Goto Jogo was beheaded by the infamous “Jihadi John” in a video released by the jihadist group.

Two weeks ago, the Islamic State gave an ultimatum to Japan. This demand included the payment of $200 million in return for sparing the lives of Kenji Goto and Haruna Yukawa. On Jan. 24, private contractor Yukawa was purported to have been beheaded by the group in an audio message also featuring Goto. After this release, the terrorist group changed its demands. Instead of a monetary ransom, it asked for the release of Sajida al Rishawi, a would-be female suicide bomber who failed to detonate in Jordan in 2005. Rishawi was tied to al Qaeda in Iraq and has been imprisoned in Jordan awaiting a death sentence since her failed plot.

Japan was said to have been negotiating for the release of Goto and a captured Jordanian pilot who was downed by the Islamic State in December. However, the negotiations reportedly became “deadlocked” according to the BBC. The video released today made no mention of the fate of the pilot.

The ultimatum and subsequent beheadings came after Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, pledged $2.5 billion in non-military aid for the Middle East, including $200 million for those fighting the Islamic State. [For more information on this, see LWJ report Islamic State gives ultimatum to Japan.]

Yukawa, who was captured by the Islamic State back in August, was allegedly a security contractor before going to Syria. In a video post to social media when Yukawa was initially captured, he claimed he was a photographer according to a translation by SITE Intelligence Group. The other hostage, Goto, was a freelance journalist who has worked in various hotspots throughout the Middle East. His family lost contact with him in October and his wife reportedly received ransom demands of $8.5 million in November.

“Jihadi John” is the same Islamic State militant who beheaded James Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Cawthorne Haines, Alan Henning, and Peter Kassig. He is believed to be a British citizen.

Caleb Weiss is an editor of FDD's Long War Journal and a senior analyst at the Bridgeway Foundation, where he focuses on the spread of the Islamic State in Central Africa.


  • Birbal Dhar says:

    I understand Kenji Goto tried to go to Raqqa to find out what happened to his Japanese friend Shinzo Abe. Well he found his friend, but unfortunately paid a heavy price by getting himself kidnapped by the same group who took his friend. Sadly both were killed by the Islamic State, who follow the edicts of Prophet Mohammed in the 7th century who stated that the caliphate has the permission to kill or capture any infidel, unless he or she has an agreement with the caliph that their safety would be secure.
    Kenji took a very high risk and in a video he recorded before being kidnapped realised that if anything happened to him, he would take full blame. I understand he really wanted to help his friend, but to go into a territory run by the Islamic State terrorist organisation without any kind of agreement was totally foolhardy. Let me state that the Islamic State terrorist organisation is totally responsible for the deaths of these Japanese hostages, but even then he should have not taken that gamble to go into that territory. A gamble he sadly paid for.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    Most commenters on this board realize that beheading/stoning is a common method of execution in Sharia law. The Islamic State probably believed that the two Japanese citizens were spies. As for the captured Jordanian pilot, there is a significant chance that he will be executed in the same manner. After all, he was bombing IS targets, and most probably causing some collateral damage. No one should be shocked if it happens. This could cause some instability in the Kingdom of Jordan. The Islamic State thrives in chaotic environments.

  • m3fd2002 says:

    Well, got that one wrong. Apparently, IS executed the Jordanian pilot by burning:
    That is a new low.


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