The United Nations Security Council has demanded that the Islamic State group release all its hostages, and condemned the terrorists’ beheading of Japanese journalist Kenji Goto over the weekend. The Security Council on Sunday night called for its member states to stand with Japan and hold the extremist group also known as ISIS or ISIL accountable for its actions.
“ISIL must be defeated and the violence and hatred it espouses stamped out,” the council said in a statement. The Security Council members declared that “acts of barbarism perpetrated by ISIL do not intimidate them but rather stiffen their resolve.”
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon gave his condolences to Goto’s family and the Japanese government as news of his apparent beheading broke on Saturday. Ban condemned ISIS’ actions in a separate statement saying that Goto’s death “underscores the violence that so many have been subjected to in Iraq and Syria.”
The 15-member council demanded the “immediate, safe and unconditional release of all those who are kept hostage by ISIL, Al-Nusra Front and all other groups associated with Al-Qaida,” adding that journalists in conflict areas should be treated as civilians in accordance with international law. The council noted that ISIS has been sanctioned by Resolution 2161 since last June and that any individual or entity that provides financial or material support could face the same sanctions.
Meanwhile, the fate of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kaseasbeh, who was part of the hostage swap agreement between the Jordanian government and ISIS, remains unknown. Goto and al-Kaseasbeh were supposed to be exchanged for detained Iraqi terrorist Sajida al-Rishawi on Thursday, but Jordan held back on the swap when it did not receive proof from ISIS that the pilot was still alive. Goto was Japan’s second casualty to ISIS, after Japanese civilian Haruna Yukawa, who was captured with Goto, was reportedly executed on Jan. 24 for Japan’s refusal to pay ransom.
Jordan said it was still willing to trade al-Rishawi for al-Kaseasbeh on Sunday after Goto’s beheading video was released. "We are still ready to hand over the convict Sajida al-Rishawi in return for the return of our son and our hero," government spokesman Mohammad al-Momani told Reuters.