Japanese reporter’s bid to save friend led to ISIS abduction

Before the apparent murder of the Japanese hostage, Haruna Yukawa, Reuters reported: It is an unlikely friendship that ties the fates of war correspondent Kenji Goto and troubled loner Haruna Yukawa, the two Japanese hostages for which Islamic State militants demanded a $200 million (132.34 million pounds) ransom this week.

Yukawa was captured in August outside Aleppo. Goto, who had returned to Syria in late October to try to help his friend, had been missing since then.

For Yukawa, who dreamed of becoming a military contractor, travelling to Syria had been part of an effort to turn his life around after going bankrupt, losing his wife to cancer and attempting suicide, according to associates and his own accounts.

A unit at Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs had been seeking information on him since August, people involved in that effort said. Goto’s disappearance had not been reported until Tuesday’s video apparently showing him and Yukawa kneeling in orange t-shirts next to a masked Islamic State militant wielding a knife.

Yukawa first met Goto in Syria in April and asked him to take him to Iraq. He wanted to know how to operate in a conflict zone. They went together in June.

“He was hapless and didn’t know what he was doing. He needed someone with experience to help him,” Goto told Reuters in August.

Yukawa then returned to Syria in July on his own. Goto, 47, returned to Japan. Yukawa’s subsequent abduction haunted Goto, who felt he had to do something to help the man, a few years his junior. [Continue reading…]

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