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Kenji Goto's Wife 'Devastated' By News Of Journalist's Death


Japanese journalist Kenji Goto

Japanese journalist Kenji Goto

The wife of Kenji Goto, the Japanese freelance journalist apparently murdered in an execution-style killing by the Islamic State (IS) group, has said she and her family are "devastated" by the news of his death.

In a statement issued via the British freelance journalist organization the Rory Peck Trust (RPT) in February 1, Rinko Jogo said that Goto was "not just my loving husband and father to our two beautiful children, but also a son, brother and friend to many around the world."

A graphic 67-second long video released on January 31 by the Islamic State group's media wing, Al Furqan, appeared to show Goto's decapitated body.

Japan has said that it is "highly probable" that the video is genuine.

The video is in a similar format to previous IS videos that have appeared to show the beheadings of Western hostages including two other freelance journalists, Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff. It shows Goto dressed in an orange robe and kneeling in front of a black-clad and masked militant, who speaks to camera. The video then cuts to an image that appears to show Goto's decapitated body. The masked militant speaks in a British accent and is thought to be the same man, nicknamed "Jihadi John," who is apparently responsible for a number of previous killings.

In his scripted speech to camera, the militant blames Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe for the murder.

"To the Japanese government: you, like your foolish allies in the Satanic coalition, have yet to understand that we, by Allah's grace, are the Islamic caliphate, with authority and power. An entire army thirsty for your blood. 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," the militant says.

Grief And Pride

In her message, Goto's wife Rinko Jogo said that she was "extremely proud" of her husband for his efforts to report "the plight of people in conflict areas like Iraq, Somalia, and Syria."

"It was his passion to highlight the effects on ordinary people, especially through the eyes of children, and to inform the rest of us of the tragedies of war," Rinko Jogo wrote.

RPT director Tina Carr said in a statement that Goto was an experienced and respected journalist who had covered conflicts in Afghanistan, Albania, Chechnya, Iraq, Libya, and Sierra Leone as well as in Syria. Goto's reporting focused on humanitarian issues, particularly those affecting children.

Taku Nishimae, a friend of Goto who waged a campaign on Twitter and Facebook calling for his release, posted a statement on Facebook on February 1 offering condolences to Goto's family.

"Kenji Goto was the voice of those who could not speak for themselves; especially the children," Nishimae wrote.

Nishimae called on those who wanted to remember and honor Goto to do so by helping others in Goto's name.

"Kenji always put others before himself. He was a quiet, modest man whom we could all learn from. So now, we can all say 'I AM KENJI' and become more selfless, compassionate, and brave in our daily lives and do what we can to help those around us who are suffering," Nishimae's statement added.

Nishimae's "I Am Kenji" social media campaign had attracted a large outpouring of support for Goto's release, including backing from those who highlighted Goto's mission to report on the effects of conflict on ordinary civilians. On January 31, following the news of Goto's apparent killing, one Syrian Twitter user tweeted that Goto was "one of very few journalists who went to Syria to shed light on the suffering of my people."

Goto's apparent murder by Islamic State came a week after the militant group claimed it had killed another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa. The IS group said that Goto's release depended on the release of an Iraqi woman, Sajida al-Rishawi, a would-be suicide bomber who is being held on death row in Jordan.

-- Joanna Paraszczuk

About This Blog

"Under The Black Flag" provides news, opinion, and analysis about the impact of the Islamic State (IS) extremist group in Syria, Iraq, and beyond. It focuses not only on the fight against terrorist groups in the Middle East, but also on the implications for the region and the world. The blog's primary author, James Miller, closely covered the first three years of the Arab Spring, with a focus on Syria, and is now the managing editor of The Interpreter, where he covers Russia's foreign and domestic policy and the Kremlin's wars in Syria and Ukraine. Follow him on Twitter: @Millermena

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