Islamic State has released an audio video on Saturday showing freelance journalist Kenji Goto Jogo, one of two Japanese nationals taken hostage by the group, announcing that his fellow countryman Haruna Yukawa had been executed, and relaying new IS demands to be met in order to ensure his safety.
In the audio video, different than the previous Islamic State execution videos, Goto is seen holding a picture of Yukawa’s beheaded body. “You were warned, you were given a deadline, and so my captives acted upon their words,” Goto says. “[Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe, you killed Haruna, you did not take the threat of my captors seriously … Please don’t let Abe do the same for my case,” Goto says, speaking to his wife.
Goto goes on to say that the Islamic State is no longer demanding a ransom of $200 million, but instead the release of Iraqi Sajida al-Rishawi (44), imprisoned in Jordan since 2005 for an attempted suicide bombing as part of the 2005 Amman bomb attacks carried out by Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), now the Islamic State. Rishawi survived because her explosive belt failed to detonate. She was caught by Jordanian authorities and sentenced to death by hanging.
“It is simple,” Goto says, “You give them Sajida and I will be released. At the moment it actually looks possible, and our government are indeed a stones throw away. Our government representatives are ironically in Jordan where their sister Sajida is held prisoner by the Jordanian regime. Again I would like to stress how easy it is to save my life. You bring them their sister from the Jordanian regime, and I will be released immediately, me for her.
These could be my last hours in this world, and I may be a dead man speaking. Don’t let these be my last words you ever hear. Don’t let Abe also kill me.”
Japanese government spokesman Yoshihide Suga has said his country is outraged by the atrocity.
“This is an outrageous and unacceptable act,” Suga said. “We strongly demand the prompt release of the remaining Mr. Kenji Goto, without harm.”
Suga also said the government is holding an emergency meeting over the situation.
After the meeting, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said that Japan “will not give in to terrorism.” He also called for the immediate release of the Japanese journalist on Sunday. “We are using every diplomatic channel and means to work towards a release,” he told reporters. “This act of terrorism is an outrageous and unacceptable act of violence,” Abe said.
“I feel a strong sense of anger and firmly condemn this. I again strongly demand the immediate release of Mr. Kenji Goto, unharmed.”
Abe spoke by phone with Jordanian King Abullah II on Saturday, the state-run Petra news agency reported, without elaborating on what they discussed. He also called the two hostages’ families.
Japan Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said officials were trying to verify the video and the photo shown in it.
Patrick Ventrell, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said U.S. intelligence officials were also working to confirm whether it was authentic.
Goto’s mother, Junko Ishido, told Japanese public broadcaster NHK in a televised interview that she was skeptical about the voice claiming to be Goto. “Kenji’s English is very good. He should sound more fluent,” she said.
One militant, via an Islamic State-affiliate website, has said that Saturday’s message was fake. Another said that the message was intended only for Goto’s family, while a third militant on the site said that the video was not released by the ISIS media group al-Furqan.
Experts who analyzed the recording and compared the speaker’s vocal characteristics with verified recordings of Goto speaking English found reasons to believe and disbelieve.
“There’s a high likelihood that the voice is Goto’s,” said Matsumi Suzuki, an independent voiceprint specialist.
Suzuki compared the recording from Saturday’s video with a video that Goto recorded in October to explain he would accept complete responsibility for whatever befell him in the area. He compared the brief segments where Goto utters his name by performing frequency analysis to determine the spectrum of sounds used.
“Ten points of Goto’s vocal characteristics in the first video match the second one,” Suzuki said. This correlation, he said, is sufficiently strong enough to conclude the same person is speaking in both recordings.
Hajime Suzuki, president of Japan Acoustic Lab, doubts that the real Goto is speaking in Saturday’s video.
In his October video, Goto said in English: “It’s my responsibility if something happens. . . . Please don’t have a bad impression (of) Syrian people.”
The recording was considered poor for analysis because it contains a lot of background noise. As a result, the Japan Acoustic Lab chief could isolate only three words for comparison that crop up in both recordings: “don’t,” “my” and “please.”
He said analyzing the three words produced a very different voiceprint that suggests the speaker in Saturday’s video has a mouth of a “different shape and size” than Goto’s. Although not as unique as a fingerprint, a voiceprint is nevertheless considered sufficiently reliable to justify arrest, he said.
Some who know Goto have said the latest video does not sound like him.
Toshi Maeda, a Japanese freelance journalist and friend of Goto’s, said the man who identified himself as “Kenji Goto Jogo” was someone else.
“I’ve heard him speak English before, including in his reports for NHK World,” Maeda said. “He has a bit of a Japanese accent. But the voice in the video sounded like that of a native English speaker.”
UPDATE 01/27/2015 Islamic State Releases 2nd Kenji Goto Message: 24 Hour Deadline for Prisoner Exchange
Islamic State released a second audio video with a still image of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto on Tuesday, warning he has “24 hours left to live,” along with a Jordanian air force pilot also being held by the group, whose photo Goto is holding.
In the new video titled “The Second Public Message of ‘Kenji Goto Jogo’ to His Family and the Government of Japan,” the voice of the man, identifying himself as Goto, blamed the Jordanian government for not freeing Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi would-be suicide bomber now detained in Jordan, in exchange for Goto.
“I’ve been told this is my last message, and I’ve also been told that the barrier extracting my freedom is now just the Jordanian government delaying the handover of Sajida.
Tell the Japanese government to put all their political pressure on Jordan. Time is now running very short. It is me for her.
What seems to be so difficult to understand? She has been a prisoner for a decade, and I’ve only been a prisoner for a few months. Her for me. A straight exchange.
Anymore delays by the Jordanian government will mean they are responsible for the death of their pilot, which will then be followed by mine. I only have 24 hours left to live, and the pilot has even less. Please don’t leave us to die.
Anymore delaying tactics will simply see both of us getting killed. The ball is now in the Jordanian’s court.”
The Jordanian pilot in the photo Goto’s holding is Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh, whose fighter jet crashed in Syria in December. He has been held by the Islamic State group since then.
IS published a short Q&A with Kaseasbeh in their latest issue of Dabiq at the end of December, and it was reported earlier this month that the U.S. attempted 2 rescue missions to save him and other IS hostages, but both ended in failure.
Reports in domestic media and in the English-language Jordan Times said there was a possibility that Islamic State would demand the release of not just Sajida al-Rishawi, but also another Iraqi terrorist, Ziad al-Karboli, an aide to a former Al-Qaeda leader in Iraq, who was sentenced to death in 2008 for killing a Jordanian citizen.
The mother of Karboli told the AP on Tuesday that her family was told that IS was also seeking his release as part of a swap, but it’s still unclear whether it is related to the possible deal involving Goti.
A Japanese envoy in Jordan, Deputy Foreign Minister Yasuhide Nakayama, expressed hope the two hostages would return home “with a smile on their faces.”
“I hope we can all firmly work hard and join hands to cooperate, and for the two countries (Japan and Jordan) to cooperate, in order for us to see the day when the Jordanian pilot and our Japanese national Mr. Goto, can both safely return to their own countries with a smile on their faces,” he told reporters.
A member of Jordan’s parliament said the country was in indirect talks with the militants to secure the hostages’ release. Bassam Al-Manasseer, chairman of the foreign affairs committee, told Bloomberg News the negotiations are taking place through religious and tribal leaders in Iraq, adding that Jordan and Japan won’t negotiate directly with IS and won’t free Rishawi in exchange for Goto only.
Manaseer’s comments were the strongest suggestion yet that authorities in Jordan and Japan may be open to a prisoner exchange.
UPDATE #1 01/28/2015
Rumors circulated Wednesday that a deal had been reached between the Islamic State and Japan/Jordan regarding the release of IS hostages Kenji Goto and Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh in exchange for Sajida al-Rishawi, who’s been imprisoned in Jordan since an attempted suicide bombing in Amman in 2005.
Some IS Twitter accounts even claimed that the deal had already been done, saying Goto had been released by the group, and Jordan had released Rishawi from prison and that she was back in Iraq.
But Jordan’s foreign ministers have said that the rumors are false, demanding news organizations retract their stories, and asking for proof that their pilot Kaseasbeh was still alive.
In response to Jordan’s request for proof of Muath’s health’s, a top IS twitter account replied saying that he had been beheaded when the 24-hour deadline passed. This has not been confirmed by other sources as of yet.
Meanwhile, longtime jihadist lawyer Musa Abdullat, who originally made the claim of the exchange between Goto and Rishawi being complete, stood by his story even after Jordan’s denial.
UPDATE #2 01/28/2015 Islamic State Releases 3rd Kenji Goto Message: Extends Deadline Another 24-Hours to Release Rishawi or Kaseasbeh Dies
In the short 30 second audio message Goto says, “If Sajida al-Rishawi is not ready for exchange for my life at the Turkish border by Thursday sunset 29th of January Mosul time, the Jordanian pilot Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh will be killed immediately.”
UPDATE #1 01/29/2015
Jordan said on Thursday it was still holding Sajida al-Rishawi as a deadline passed for her release set by Islamic State. About an hour before the new deadline was due to pass, government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani said Jordan was still holding Rishawi.
“We want proof … that the pilot is alive so that we can proceed with what we said yesterday — exchanging the prisoner with our pilot,” Momani told Reuters.
“We want proof … that the pilot is alive so that we can proceed with what we said yesterday — exchanging the prisoner with our pilot,” Momani told Reuters. “We have not received any evidence that Kasaesbeh is alive. This is what we asked and have not received any proof.”
He said separately that Jordan was coordinating with Japanese authorities in an effort to secure the release of Goto.
The implication that the Jordanian pilot would not be part of an exchange deal has left Jordan in a difficult position. Any swap that left out the pilot would be deeply unpopular after officials insisted he was their priority, and could leave Amman subject to further demands from the militants.
UPDATE #2 01/29/2015
Moaz the apostate
Soon a new release will be circulated from
Stay tuned stay tuned
UPDATE 01/31/2015 (GRAPHIC VIDEO) Islamic State Beheads Japanese Journalist Kenji Goto