Kenji Goto, a freelance journalist who was the focus of a last-minute prisoner swap involving Japan and Jordan, has been beheaded by the Islamic State, or ISIS.
The Japanese war correspondent became the third journalist since September to be executed. A video depicting the brutal death was released on Jan. 31, 2015, after the terrorists’ demand for Jordan to release a convicted suicide bomber was denied. Goto’s death follows the murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in 2014.
“Islamic State militants have proven they do not care if you are a journalist from Syria, from the West or from the East. They only care about expanding their reign of terror,” said the Committee to Protect Journalists, an independent nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom and defends the rights of journalists.
A seasoned reporter who covered conflicts from Kosovo to Iraq, Goto, 47, was kidnapped by ISIS shortly after arriving in Syria in October 2014 to report and seek the release of a kidnapped friend, Haruna Yukawa. Yukawa was executed on Jan. 24.
Goto was in Syria to tell the story of ISIS. He didn’t fear for his life, despite a friend’s warning against crossing into the war-torn country.
“I am not American. I am not British. I am Japanese. I can go,” Goto said.
On Feb. 4, the Newseum will host a program about the growing threat to journalists worldwide. Diane Foley, mother of James, will be a guest, along with Debra Tice, the mother of freelance journalist Austin Tice, who has been missing since he was taken captive in Syria in August 2012.