- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 31, 2015

A new video released Saturday shows Islamic State militants beheading Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.

Although the video could not be immediately independently confirmed, it bore the symbols of previously authenticated Islamic State propaganda. Diplomats have spent days trying to save Mr. Goto’s life.

The Islamic State’s purported killing of Mr. Goto comes just one week after the killing of 42-year-old Haruna Yukawa.

In the video, titled “A Message to the Government of Japan,” a man says to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, “because of your reckless decision to take part in an unwinnable war, this man will not only slaughter Kenji, but will also carry on and cause carnage wherever your people are found. So let the nightmare for Japan begin,” The Associated Press reported Saturday.

Mr. Goto, a freelance journalist and film-maker, traveled to Syria in October to reportedly rescue Mr. Yukawa, an adventurer fascinated by war.

The Islamic State had demanded $200 million for Mr. Goto’s release.

National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement Saturday that the council had seen the video and was working to confirm its authenticity.

“The United States strongly condemns [the Islamic State’s] actions and we call for the immediate release of all remaining hostages,” Ms. Meehan said. “We stand in solidarity with our ally Japan.”

The new threat against that ally – a member of a U.S.-led international coalition known as Operation Inherent Resolve – has surfaced just as the coalition is preparing to step up its offensive against the Islamic State and wrest from the extremist group its claim to Mosul, Iraq. Coalition members have been working on a plan to Iraq’s second largest city for some months now and expect to launch a sophisticated operation in the spring, Pentagon officials said.

Army Gen. Lloyd Austin, who oversees military operations in the Middle East and the international campaign against the Islamic State, told The Wall Street Journal earlier this month that Kurdish fighters and U.S.-trained Sunni fighters, would be ready to retake Mosul by the spring or early summer.

U.S. military trainers and advisers are working to prepare the Iraqi fighters to launch that operation “sometime in early 2015,” which means the offensive is more likely to take place in the spring, according to a senior Pentagon official.

Military officials are also working at a rapid pace to arm those forces. A plan to deliver new weapons to fighters on the ground is moving forward in the wake of a public complaint by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the coalition has not been giving Iraqi fighters the tools they need to win the campaign against the Islamic State.

Weapons delivery plans show that the U.S. military plans to send to Iraqi security forces in February 10,000 M16 rifles, 23,000 gun magazines and
10,000 M68 “red dot” optic enhancers, which increase target accuracy.

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