As the Jordanian pilot’s family awaits news, the Daesh clock is ticking

Published February 1st, 2015 - 11:09 GMT

The family of the Jordanian pilot held hostage by ISIS are demanding answers from their government following the release of a video allegedly showing the beheading of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto.

Lt. Mu'adh al-Kaseasbeh, 26, has been held hostage since December, but last night's video, purporting to show Mr Goto's beheading, made no mention of him.

Earlier this week, the Jordanian government said it would give in to ISIS's demands and release a death-row al-Qaeda prisoner, in exchange for Mr al-Kaseasbeh.

Members of the al-Kaseasbeh tribe held a candlelight vigil in his home town of Karak, Jordan on Saturday, carrying posters with 'we are all Muath,' written in Arabic.

Jordan said on Friday that it will only release Sajida Mubarak Atrous al-Rishawi, a failed suicide bomber currently on death row, it it gets proof Mr al-Kaseasbeh is alive. 

An uncle of the pilot, Yassin Rawashda, said early Sunday that 'we want the government to tell us the truth.' He says the family also wants to know which direction negotiations are headed.

The government is also under domestic pressure to win the release of Mr al-Kaseasbeh, the first foreign pilot to be captured by ISIS since a US-led military coalition began carrying out air strikes in Iraq and Syria in September.

Since his capture, there have been several protests in Jordan questioning the country's involvement in the fight against ISIS. 

Last Saturday an audio recording emerged purporting to be of Mr Goto explaining that Mr Yukawa had been killed, and again pleading for his release.

The voice claimed that ISIS had changed its demands, asking the Jordanian government for the release of al-Rishawi  and threatening to kill Mr al-Kaseasbeh.

There was no mention of the fate of Mr al-Kaseasbeh in last night's footage, and Jordan has previously threatened to kill all of its ISIS hostages if he is harmed.

Jordan's government spokesman, Mohammed al-Momani, declined comment late Saturday on the video of Mr Goto's purported beheading. 

The video seems to show the 46-year-old freelance journalist being beheaded by the ISIS militant fighter known as Jihadi John.

The 1 minute and 7 second clip shows Mr Goto kneeling in a rocky gorge while the masked murderer delivers a scripted message to the camera.

The killer then lowers his knife and the footage goes black, as is common in ISIS propaganda films. When the footage begins again Mr Goto's body is shown lying on the desert floor. 

The fighter, who has a British accent, says: 'To the Japanese government: You, like your foolish allies in the Satanic coalition, have yet to understand that we, by Allah's grace, are an Islamic Caliphate with authority and power, an entire army thirsty for your blood.

'(Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo) 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. 

'So let the nightmare for Japan begin.'

The footage has appeared just a day after Japan's deputy foreign minister, Yasuhide Nakayama, told journalists that negotiations for Mr Goto's release were 'in a state of deadlock'.

Tonight the Japanese government has strongly condemned the apparent killing.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said: 'I cannot help feeling strong indignation that an inhuman and despicable act of terrorism like this has been committed again.'

Japanese authorities have said the video is most likely genuine. A statement from a cabinet meeting of senior politicians said the footage 'has a high degree of credibility.'

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe added: 'I feel strong indignation at this inhumane and contemptible act of terrorism. I will never forgive these terrorists.'

'Japan will work with the international community to bring those responsible for this crime to justice,' he said, reiterating that Japan would not give in to terrorism.

Mr Goto's mother and brother have both paid tribute to the war correspondent this evening.

'I was hoping Kenji would come back alive to thank everyone who had supported him,' Goto's brother Junichi Goto, told broadcaster NHK TV. 'I am filled with sadness he couldn't do it.'

Goto's mother, Junko Ishido, told NHK TV her son's death showed he was a kind gentle man, trying to save another hostage.

On Saturday, President Barack Obama led global condemnation of the apparent slaying, deeming it a 'heinous murder' and saying the US stands in solidarity with Japan against the 'barbaric act'.

In a statement, Obama called Goto courageous and said America applauds Japan's steadfast commitment to advancing peace and prosperity in the Middle East as well as around the world.

Also on Saturday, Andreas Kreig, assistant professor for defence studies at King's College London, told MailOnline that he believes the footage is genuine.

He said: 'The technology that is used to film, they way the shots are cut, the way the footage transitions from one shot to the next, this is all things we have seen before in ISIS videos.'

Anthony Glees, Professor of Security Studies at Buckingham University, added: 'This kind of video still has the power to shock. 

'It's particularly shocking because in this case everyone had a sense that Mr Goto may be released, as would the Jordanian pilot.' 

Last night ISIS tweeted to say they were going to give King Abdullah, the deceased ruler of Saudi Arabia, a present on what would have been his 91st birthday. 

Last night terror expert Shiraz Maher, who works for King's College London, tweeted the message, and added: 'I suspect, sadly, we'll see hostage videos released soon.'

Asked whether he had been expecting ISIS to release footage this evening, Dr Kreid added: 'We had not been expecting anything, but something had to happen, because ISIS had issued an ultimatum that was not met.' 

Mr Goto first appeared in an ISIS propaganda video a week ago alongside fellow Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa, 42.

ISIS demanded $200million for the release of both of the men, the same amount the Japnese government pledged to help fight the organisation. 

The Japanese government has said it is currently trying to verify the footage, which was distributed by ISIS' propaganda arm al-Furqan Media Foundation. 

Mr Goto, 47, a war correspondent with experience in Middle East hot spots, went to Syria in late October to try to help release Mr Yukawa, who was captured in July.

Mr Yukawa's arrival in the Middle East followed a number of difficult years, which appeared to begin in 2005, when his business failed, leaving him in debt and, at one point, reportedly homeless. 

The Japnese government has previously condemned ISIS' threats against Mr Yukawa and Mr Goto, while stating that they will not cooperate with terrorists.

After news of Mr Yukawa's killing spread, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said: 'Considering the unbearable pain and sorrow that his family must be feeling, I am speechless.

'Such act of terrorism is outrageous and impermissible, it causes me nothing but strong indignation. I condemn it strongly and resolutely.'

U.S. officials said they were trying to confirm the authenticity of the video.

Bernadette Meehan, a spokesman for the White House's National Security Council, said: 'We have seen the video purporting to show that Japanese citizen Kenji Goto has been murdered by the terrorist group ISIL.

'The United States strongly condemns ISIL's actions and we call for the immediate release of all the remaining hostages. We stand in solidarity with our ally Japan.'

Junko Ishido, Mr Goto's mother, has previously issued a tearful appeal for her son to be released.

Speaking at a press conference last week, she said: 'I say to you people of the Islamic State, Kenji is not your enemy. Please release him.

'Kenji was always saying 'I hope to save lives of children on battlefields'. He was reporting war from a neutral position.'

Mr Gotos' death, if confirmed, adds to a long list of foreign hostages that have apparently been killed by Jihadi John, including Harnua Yukawa.

The list of victims also includes British aid workers David Haines and Alan Henning, American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and aid worker Peter Kassig.

By Sara Malm


© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

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