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Will anything change after Kenji Goto?

The ideological root that nourishes hatred is again hatred. This fact, which I am constantly reiterating here and have stressed numerous times needs to be well implanted in people’s minds. Because as the world forgets it, knowingly or otherwise, it is continuing to incite hatred. 

We witnessed two executions by ISIL last week. Two Japanese citizens were executed a few days apart. These pictures of executions by ISIL, which started with the American journalist James Foley, are intended either to teach world leaders a lesson, or to frighten them. Of course world leaders will have learned lessons. But in terms of application and results, it will be useful to analyze these executions from two perspectives. 

In terms of world leaders, readers will remember that ISIL were demanding a ransom of $200 for the Japanese hostages. ISIL wanted Japan, which had previously given the same sum to the coalition forces in the fight against ISIL, to pay for the release of its citizens. The same thing applied with the journalist and peace volunteers who had previously been threatened and killed. The U.S. put an end to the matter by saying, ‘The US government does not make concessions to terrorists, which includes paying ransom.’1 A similar statement had been made by the Japanese prime minister when the two hostages were threatened last week, ‘Japan will not bow to terrorism!’ 

They refused to pay the ransom; and the hostages were savagely murdered before the eyes of the world. 

Life is sacred. If you have the means to prevent someone’s death, you must use them. There is no room for selfishness or excuses when it comes to a person’s life. If you choose not to save someone’s life when you could do so, then it means that you are an accessory to murder. All the excuses you make to ease your conscience after becoming an accessory to murder are invalid. The chance to save that life has been and gone. 

Therefore, excuses such as ‘We will not make concessions to terrorism’ and using terror against terror, do not change the outcome. Murder could have been prevented, but was not. One of the foul methods of terror could have been prevented, but was not. The lives of those people who were in that bloody region solely for peace could have been saved, but were not. Money can always be compensated, but those lives have been lost. Who can compensate for that? 

It is specious to claim that paying ransoms represents making concessions or bowing to terrorism; that is presumably a guise intended to give allies the impression that ‘I am standing firm against terror.’ The neighboring countries in question are perfectly well aware that the ideology and terrifying logic of terror is well-rooted in ISIL-like communities. These people have already passed all bounds in killing, slaughtering and risking death. They can easily find money and weapons for that cause. Paying ransoms to these people who have already gone beyond all bounds when it comes to savagery, will not make them any worse terrorists than they are already. So long as they have a false ideology in their heads, ISIL militants will wish to kill and slaughter wherever they go. Neither Japan’s nor America’s behavior has turned them away from that aim in the slightest. 

The fact is that the violence inflicted by ISIL on local residents does not create that much of an effect in the world. ISIL is aware of that, and through killings of foreigners, with their high propaganda value, is trying to attract the coalition forces, which are adding to the problems in the Middle East with their aerial assaults, onto their own ground. Terror is therefore spreading and also involving these countries. Countries that refuse to pay ransoms are not avoiding submitting to terror. These countries, which spend millions of dollars on rockets that mostly hit civilians, have merely become accessories to murder by refusing to pay ransoms and are seeking to solve violence through violence. 

Let us make it clear here that the burning to death of the Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kassasiba was utterly barbaric. It was further proof of ISIL’s false and terrifying mentality. However, the Jordanian government’s swift execution of its prisoners after the release of that video has just made matters worse. This is not revenge or anything; it will just make the violence worse. The error that is responsible for the emergence of the violence if the Middle East is constantly being repeated.

Looking at the issue from the ISIL perspective, ISIL is implementing a false interpretation that is generally accepted across the Islamic world. It commits its killings in the light of the rule of that nonsensical faith. Theirs is a false and mistaken religion. Killings and savagery are the horrifying and foul results of that false mindset. 

However, killing someone for ransom is something else. Killing someone for ransom, whatever the aim, is utterly a robbery. The religion is full of false commandments about murder. But even if based on such nonsense, there are no grounds in any belief for killing in order to rob. 

If leaders want to fight against terrorism, then they need to act in a discreet way and should not regard the taking of life as that easy or life as cheap. Instead of vowing violence, they seek to show the other side that life is valuable. Just because the other side are screaming for violence does not mean they resort to the same horror. They should not become part of terror for the sake of not making concessions to it. Let us remember, sitting back and watching murder, no matter on what pretext, means becoming an accessory to murder. 

These words by Kenji Goto, the Japanese journalist executed by ISIL, that he shared on Twitter four years ago may serve as a guide to governments as they decide on other people’s lives: “Closing my eyes and holding still. It's the end if I get mad or scream. It's close to a prayer. Hate is not for humans. Judgment lies with God. That's what I learned from my Arabic brothers and sisters.”2 

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