Japanese hostages documented their travels in Syria before IS abduction

The Japanese men held hostage by the so-called Islamic State documented their travels throughout war-torn Syria in a series of online videos posted before their abduction.

Haruna Yukawa, 42, and Kenji Goto, 47, have been threatened with death if their government does not pay a $200 million ransom to the terrorist group within 72 hours.

A masked terrorist commonly called “Jihadi John” made the demands in a video posted online Tuesday that shows both men on their knees in the same type of orange jumpsuits that other IS hostages wore before they were beheaded.

Goto, a journalist who has covered several conflict zones, has contributed to major Japanese media outlets, including the NHK public broadcasting company and the Asahi television network.

In 1996, he launched the Independent Press video news company, which focuses on violence, poverty, children’s education and refugees. He has also worked for United Nations organizations such as UNICEF and other nonprofit organizations.

Goto apparently traveled to Syria to rescue Yukawa, but it was unclear how he intended to do so, Japanese media reported.

Yukawa set up a security services company for war-torn regions in January 2014. He traveled to Syria because he wanted to do something to help people suffering from the ongoing civil war, according to his blog posts.

The threats against the lives of Yukawa and Goto have raised interest in their activity in the region, as documented in a trail of videos on YouTube.

Goto appears in two videos described as having been recorded in April 2012, which show him in Turkey walking to the Syrian border, and then passing razor wire at the border.

Another video, shot at a border post, shows what appear to be refugees fleeing from Syria into Turkey.

One clip described as showing Goto entering Syria was posted online on Oct. 2, 2014.

Another clip from that day shows Goto holding what is described as a pass to enter the country, issued by the “Syrian Media Center.”

Goto shot multiple videos portraying conditions in Kobani, a predominantly Kurdish town in Syria near the Turkish border.

But his final video  posted Oct. 7, 2014  just shows Goto speaking directly to the camera. He says he is shocked to have learned that a young Japanese man has dedicated himself to fighting on behalf of the Islamic State.

Yukawa also posted videos to his YouTube account in May and June of 2014. Some graphic videos show dead bodies being removed from what looks like a well in Aleppo. Yukawa says they were the victims of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime. Others show destroyed buildings.

Yukawa also appears in many other videos, speaking to the camera, firing an AK47 and traveling with armored vehicles in Kirkuk, Iraq.

In late June 2014, Yukawa posted several videos to YouTube, also in Kirkuk, that feature Goto.

 

On Tuesday, after the new IS video appeared, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan declared that the hostages’ lives were his top priority and vowed to save them. He is due to return to Japan on Wednesday after a six-day tour of the Middle East.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Source Article from http://news.yahoo.com/japanese-hostages-documented-travels-in-syria-before-is-abduction-193926863.html
Japanese hostages documented their travels in Syria before IS abduction
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