The heads of state of Britain and France joined U.S. President Barack Obama on Sunday in condemning the apparent execution of second Japanese hostage Kenji Goto by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in a video released online.
Obama called Goto’s death a “heinous murder,” adding that the U.S.-led anti-ISIS coalition “will continue taking decisive action to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL.”
A spokesperson for the Japanese government said the authenticity of the video was “highly probable.” His statements were corroborated by Japan’s Defense Minister Gen Nakatani who said the video appeared genuine, Reuters news agency reported.
British Prime Minister David Cameron “utterly” condemned the killing describing it as “appalling.”
A masked man with a British accent is shown in the video blaming the Japanese government for Goto’s “slaughter.”
“It is a further reminder that ISIL (ISIS) is the embodiment of evil, with no regard for human life.”
Goto was the second Japanese hostage beheaded by ISIS, after the group claimed responsibility last week for the killing of self-described contractor Haruna Yukawa, after the expiration of a 72-hour deadline during which the militants had asked Tokyo to pay a $200 million ransom.
French President Francoise Hollande also condemned the killing adding that his country stood “in solidarity with Japan in this new ordeal.”
Japan and France would “continue to work together for peace in the Middle East and to eliminate terrorist groups,” he said.
Both France and Britain joined an anti-ISIS military coalition last year led by the U.S. to counter the militant group mainly through airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
Jordan condemned the beheading of the Japanese citizen adding that it would continue efforts to save its pilot Maaz al-Kassasbeh, who was captured by the group after his plane crashed in Syria in December.
ISIS has been demanding the release of a convicted Iraqi suicide bomber on death row in Jordan in exchange for Kassasbeh’s life, a demand the government has expressed readiness to accept provided it is given proof he is still alive.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Goto’s execution, along with that of Yukawa, “reminds the world of the threat we confront in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, while it reinforces our global coalition’s commitment to degrade and ultimately destroy ISIL (ISIS).”
“The United States and its military will continue to stand alongside our Japanese allies, and we send our thoughts and prayers to Mr. Goto’s loved ones and all the people of Japan,” Hagel added.
Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke out, condemning what he described as Goto’s “barbaric killing.”
The Australian and British foreign ministers also condemned the murder.
[With AFP and Reuters]SHOW MORE