In a mobile-quality video shot shortly before setting out to ISIS stronghold Al-Raqqa city, Japanese Journalist Kenji Goto said the Syrian people have been suffering for three years and a half, and that he intends to report on ISIS and their actions in Syria. “It’s enough,” he exclaimed.
On February 1, the world awoke to the news of Goto’s death at the heads of the group’s insurgents, only a few days after his wife’s plea to spare his life.
According to Rinko, Goto was captured by the extremist group on October 25, 2014. “Since then I have been working tirelessly behind the scenes for his release,” she said in the recorded statement. “I have not spoken out until now as I have been trying to protect my children and family from the media attention Kenji’s plight has created around the world.”
The wife cautiously narrated the progression of events, noting that the insurgents contacted her via email on December 2, 2014. Nevertheless, after the release of a video demanding a monetary ransom of $200 million dollars for both Goto and Haruna Yukawa almost a month and a half later, “there have been several emails between the group and me as I have fought to save his life,” she added.
However, the group beheaded Yukawa after the deadline for ransom passed. They then informed Rinko of their final demand, which offered to release Goto if the Jordanian authorities released Iraqi suicide bomber Sajida al-Rishawi from its prisons in return.
The insurgents demanded that Rinko shares this with “the world media now,” or Goto's life as well as that of captured Jordanian Pilot Lt. Mu’ath al-Kaseasbeh would be at stake. Despite her compliance and repeated efforts to save his life, the extremist group purportedly beheaded Goto on film, releasing it later.
A Global Outcry
Perhaps the biggest testament of Goto's impact on people's lives is the global outcry against the extremist group's latest act. The world refuses to remember Goto for what IS had done to him. Instead, many such as Karim celebrate him for the compassion he had for those in conflict zones:
Kenji Goto in tears after seeing the suffering of Syrians in Aleppo. This time the Syrians shed their tears for him. pic.twitter.com/Tgb9Gm2ar7
— Karim (@SaiyanSyrian) February 1, 2015
Syrian Blogger Nader salutes Goto for his bravery:
A salute to Kenji Goto, a true internationalist, unlike the settler thugs of ISIS who came from far away only to rule over locals. RIP.
— Nader (@DarthNader) January 31, 2015
American University of Beirut graduate Haya Atassi also notes that the veteran journalist did more than just his job:
#KenjiGoto, Japanese journalist #ISIS beheaded opened a school in #Lattakia suburbs teaching computer to Syrian kids pic.twitter.com/sibN6WQxsj
— Haya Atassi (@haya_atassi) January 31, 2015
Jean Pierre Duthion, who says in his Twitter bio that he resided in Syria for the last seven years, echoes the stance of many:
I refuse to post a photo showing him as a victim of #ISIS. This is #KenjiGoto, they beheaded him yesterday. pic.twitter.com/WjkKgIG6gn
— Jean Pierre Duthion (@halona) February 1, 2015
Saudi Artist Malik Najer expresses his condolences to Goto's family, as did many others:
This is Malik Nejer from Saudi Arabia, I would like to express my condolences to #KenjiGoto family, he was a good man, may he RIP
— مالك نجر (@Nejer) February 1, 2015
Kuwaiti columnist Dalaa AlMoufti says in Arabic while attaching a photo of Goto's mother in tears that it was not suffice for IS perpetrators to terrorize Arab mothers, but they also expanded their terrorism unto Japan as well:
لم يكتفوا بتعذيب الأمهات العرب نقلوا إرهابهم لليابان ها هي أم الصحفي الياباني تنعي ابنها الذي نحرته داعش #KenjiGoto pic.twitter.com/BILpzpiB1h
— دلع المفتي (@dalaaalmoufti) February 1, 2015
It was not enough for IS perpetrators to terrorize Arab mothers, but they also expanded their terrorism unto Japan as well. This is the mother of the Japanese journalist, who was beheaded by the ISIS
Celebrities and politicians alike expressed their condolences as well. Acclaimed writer Paulo Coelho eulogizes Goto in a tweet, and raises his voice in solidarity with Lt. al-Kaseasbeh using the hashtag #IamMuath
Alive in our hearts, brave #KenjiGoto . Time to say #IamMuath even if I think (God forbid) he is already dead pic.twitter.com/ceTHF7EE0L
— Paulo Coelho (@paulocoelho) February 1, 2015
US Secretary of State John Kerry's statement does not fail to mention that Goto's death is an act of barbarism:
My heartfelt condolences to Kenji Goto's wife, his family, and the people of Japan. His barbaric murder shows ISIL's brutality.
— John Kerry (@JohnKerry) February 1, 2015
Even the anonymously-run Historical Pics Twitter account with 2.02 million followers urges everyone to remember Goto for his kindness, re-sharing the photo of him mid-conversation with Syrian youngsters:
This is how we should all remember Kenji Goto, a truly brave and remarkable man. pic.twitter.com/GwrxyUDUc0
— Historical Pics (@HistoricalPics) January 31, 2015
Yet, many remain in shock over the news of his death. London-based Emily Finch says:
Feeling very emotionally strung out following the execution of Goto Kenji having followed the story from the very beginning.
— Emily Finch (@Winipig) February 1, 2015
Journalist Dima Khatib conveys her sadness that such acts are perpetrated not only in Syria, but also falsely in the name of Islam:
It is very depressing to see someone like #KenjiGoto (or anyone) beheaded, in my birth country Syria in the name of Islam. #Arab
— Dima Khatib أنا ديمة (@Dima_Khatib) February 1, 2015
And independent journalist Boutaïna Azzabi shares a sobering reminder that 118 journalists were killed just last year:
Another journalist beheaded by ISIS, journalist #KenjiGoto. – in 2014 alone, 118 journalists were killed and 220 are jailed around the world
— Boutaïna Azzabi (@Boutaina) January 31, 2015
The 47-year-old is survived by his wife, his two-year-old and a few months old daughters.
It is not how he died I will remember him for because I will never watch that kind of sadism, but that stare of shining bravery, of fearless spirit in the face of assured death he displayed in the last moments of his life. That courage and display of bravery is how he lived his life helping people in wartorn countries. I am sure there is a reason behind his death and the death of others beyond mere terror and sheer brutality, but that reason be damned good which even a person such as I, very open-minded and generally accepting of others, cannot see rationalized despite recognizing all possible differences in religion, culture, education, etc. God bless those who do die but most especially those who kill because they will need Him more in their own time.