OPINION - Japan has right response to bloodthirsty IS brutality

Charles Graham
Charles Graham

IMAGINE someone being held hostage and the kidnapper telling police that they will be beheaded unless the Yorkshire Ripper is released.

Fearful for the safety of the innocent captive the public may be, but I would guess the majority would be siding with the authorities in refusing such a demand. Few think Peter Sutcliife should ever be back on the streets after what he did.

In Jordan this week however, the government appeared increasingly willing to spring Sajida al Rishawi in return for one of its pilots held prisoner by IS.

Their caving in to the terrorists’ demands became likely after yet another of those grotesque calling card beheadings: this time of Japanese journalist and film-maker Kenji Goto.

He was slaughtered by “Jihadi John” (or someone pretending to be him - there are rumours the original has been killed) because his government refused to pay a £200m ransom.

It is understandable to see why regimes contemplate alternatives to the mantra “we never do deals with terrorists.” In fact many do quietly pay them off. But this capitulation only increases the likelihood of more slaughter and kidnappings by extremists who are buoyed by their “success” and now have a lot more money in the bank (and presumably the ability to buy yet more murderous weapons).

Al Rishawi by the way was on Jordan’s Death Row, having been sentenced to hang for a 2005 bomb attack on a wedding in Amman which killed 57 people - more than four times the number of people murdered by the Yorkshire Ripper.

But now she is dead too. Executed along with two other captive Jihadis after it was revealed that IS had already killed Jordanian hostage Moaz al-Kasasbeh several weeks ago - by burning the poor man to death in a cage. Just when you think their barbarity can’t get any worse they manage to excel expectations.

It will be interesting to see if these eye for an eye executions impact on IS policy towards states which have the death penalty. I would imagine there might be many of us today taking a rather shameful satisfaction in seeing IS getting a modicum of their own treatment, although no doubt they will turn al Rishawi’s demise into an heroic act of martyrdom.

So the possibility of paying a ransom to IS was taken out of Jordan’s hands in the end. And for that at least we can feel some relief.

I feel desperately sorry for the families of murdered hostages and those from countries which take an uncompromising line with terrorists; they must feel indescribable despair.

After all, with such ruthless abductors, their loved ones’ best chance would appear to be a special forces attack (if the intelligence agencies can locate them, and that has proved very difficult thus far).

But I stand firm with Japan who this week responded to Mr Goto’s murder not by waving a white flag but pledging more humanitarian support for IS’s many thousands of victims including the bereaved and displaced.

Islamic State may think it is achieving victories through these high-profile executions (it was good to see the British media did not show any of the video, by the way).

But what I see is an organisation that, with each new atrocity, it is managing to unite virtually the entire world in revulsion against it in a way that no other group ever has.