Japanese hostages documented travels in Syria before IS abduction

The Japanese men held hostage by IS 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 Islamic State 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 sort of orange jumpsuits that other IS hostages had worn before being beheaded.

Goto, a conflict journalist, 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, which as UNICEF, and other nonprofits.

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 who are suffering from the ongoing civil war, according to his blog posts.

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

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

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

One clip described as showing Goto entering Syria was posted to the Internet on October 2, 2014.

Another clip from that day shows Goto holding what is described as a pass to enter the country that the ‘Syrian Media Center’ had issued.

Goto shot multiple videos on the conditions of Kobani, a predominantly Kurdish town on the Syria-Turkey border.

But his final video – posted Oct. 7, 2014 – just shows Goto speaking directly to the camera. He said he was shocked to learn that a young Japanese man had dedicated himself to fighting on behalf of the Islamic State.

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

Yukawa appeared in multiple videos as well: speaking to the camera, firing an AK47, and traveling with armored vehicles in Kirkuk, Iraq.

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

 

On Tuesday, after the new IS video appeared, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the hostages’ lives were his top priority and vowed to save them. He is due to return to Japan on Wednesday following a six-day tour or 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 travels in Syria before IS abduction
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