The brother of Kenji Goto, a Japanese journalist who was captured and killed by the Islamic State group, called for an end to the cycle of killings, after Jordan executed two al Qaeda prisoners Wednesday morning. “I do not want the cycle and chain of bloodshed to continue,” Junichi Goto told Kyodo News late Wednesday.
Just hours after ISIS militants released a video purporting to show a Jordanian fighter pilot burned alive last month, Jordan executed Iraqi inmates Sajida al-Rishawi and Ziad al-Karbouli at dawn Wednesday, government spokesman Mohammed al-Momani told The Associated Press. Jordanian officials had twice offered to swap al-Rishawi for the pilot, Lt. Muath al-Kaseasbeh, after ISIS militants threatened to kill the pilot if she was not released by Jan. 29. However, ISIS militants failed to provide Jordan with proof that al-Kaseasbeh was still alive, and the prisoner swap did not advance.
Jordanian officials vowed to avenge the death of the 26-year-old pilot, who was captured by the Sunni militants in late December after his F-16 jet crashed near the group’s de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria. However, Goto said the revenge killings will only perpetuate the brutal cycle.
“Such acts negate the death of Kenji, who was working for peace,” 55-year-old Goto said in the interview with the Tokyo-based news agency.
ISIS had initially sought to swap Kenji Goto for al-Rishawi after beheading another Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa. "You bring them their sister from the Jordanian regime, and I will be released immediately -- me for her," the voice of a man claiming to be Goto said in a video posted Jan. 24 by a known ISIS supporter. But the deadline passed and ISIS militants released a video purporting to show the 47-year-old's beheading.
Goto told Kyodo News he was overwhelmed by the news of his brother’s death. “Kenji did not look fearful at all when I saw the footage. I believe he showed dignity,” he reportedly said Wednesday. “I think Kenji was bitterly disappointed after becoming embroiled in the cycle of bloodshed, which was the opposite of what he wanted to convey.”
Al-Rishawi, 44, was sentenced to death in Jordan for her alleged role in the 2005 hotel bombings in Amman, which killed at least 57 people, The New York Times reported. Al-Karbouli, also known as Abu Houthiyfah, was arrested by Jordanian officials in 2006 and sentenced to death for an alleged attempted bombing on the border with Iraq and killing U.S. diplomat Laurence Foley in Amman in 2002, Bloomberg reported.
Both al-Rishawi and al-Karbouli were linked to now-deceased Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the so-called lead operator of al Qaeda in Iraq -- a precursor to the Islamic State group -- according to the Council on Foreign Relations, an independent U.S. think tank.