Saturday, September 27, 2014

Global Impact: Rumors of Japanese Membership in IS Elusive

According to Reuters, nine Japanese nationals have reportedly joined Islamic State (IS), Japan's former air force chief, Toshio Tamogami, quoted a senior Israeli government official as saying, but the government's top spokesman said on Friday it had not confirmed the information.

Asked about the possible participation of Japanese citizens in IS, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a regular news conference, "The government has not confirmed such information.

"Tamogami, now a senior official of a new political party, said on his blog that Nissim Ben Shitrit, the director-general of Israel's Foreign Ministry, told him this month that nine Japanese had taken part in IS.

No one was immediately available for comment at the Israeli Embassy in Tokyo, at the Israeli foreign Ministry or at the Japanese Foreign Ministry.

COMMENT: In the absence of scant confirmation, I would characterize the allegation as nothing more than a rumor.

Tamogami told REUTERS that no details besides the number of Japanese participants were given to him in his meeting with Nissim Ben Shitrit, a former ambassador to Japan.

Tamogami's blog suggests that the meeting took place on September 12, in Israel.

About 1,000 recruits from a vast region stretching from India to the Pacific may have joined IS to fight in Syria or Iraq, the head of the US Armed Forces' Pacific Command, Admiral Samuel Locklear, said on Thursday (September 25).

The Admiral’s comment came as a threat by Philippine militants of Abu Sayyaf to kill two German hostages, in a show of solidarity with IS has stoked fresh concern the Middle East group's brand of radicalism is winning recruits in Asia and posing a growing security risk in the region.

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