Arab ambassadors to Japan on Sunday strongly denounced the apparent killing of a Japanese freelance journalist held captive by Islamic State (ISIL) militants after an online video purportedly showed his beheaded body.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the despicable and heinous murder of Mr. Kenji Goto, an innocent Japanese citizen, by the so-called Islamic State. Our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Goto's family and loved ones," the Council of Arab Ambassadors released a statement as ambassadors and other diplomats from 15 Middle Eastern and North African countries, including Kuwait and Jordan, visited Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida Fumio.
While expressing members' sincere solidarity with Japan, the Council led by Waleed Siam, head of the council and the representative of the Permanent General Mission of Palestine, also applauded Japan's sober and self-possessed reaction to the matter.
"We believe all countries in the Middle East region deeply appreciate the contribution Japan has made over the last decades to the economic and social development of the region through its generous assistance of humanitarian nature," it said.
In a video posted earlier in the day, a hooded ISIL militant with a knife standing beside Goto, who kneeled in an orange jumpsuit.
The militant said the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's government has yet to understand the authority and power of the Islamic caliphate. "Abe, because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this knife will not only slaughter Kenji, but it will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin." The video also showed a still image of what appears to be the killing of Goto.
The latest video came after the captors of Goto said in an online message on January 29 that a Jordanian pilot being held by ISIL militant group would be killed unless Jordan gets ready to release Sajida Al-Rishawi, a female death-row inmate, in exchange for Goto by sunset on the same day. The Jordanian government has said it would not release Al-Rishawi without the proof that the pilot is still alive.
The hostage crisis began on January 20, when the militant group threatened to kill Goto and another Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa unless Japan pays a ransom of USD 200 million within 72 hours. In the video posted on January 24, ISIL said it had killed 42-year-old Yukawa, and demanded the release of Al-Rishawi in exchange for Goto, while dropping the ransom.
Al-Rishawi is an Iraqi woman who was sent on an Al-Qaeda bombing mission to Jordan in 2005, which killed at least 57 people. Goto went missing in October in Syria, apparently while trying to rescue Yukawa, a private military company operator, who was abducted by the militants in August.
The ransom demanded by the militants was the same amount of money as that Abe pledged on December 17 in Cairo, Egypt, during his trip to the Middle East, on promoting efforts against ISIL militants, including extending support to refugees from Iraq and Syria.