A slain hostage's noble motive spurs resistance

The Islamic State's beheading of its hostages horrifies with each event. What seems an inconceivable act of brutality becomes real again and again.

All of the murders recorded on videotape repulse the world and deepen its resolve to bring the killers to justice. What makes the deaths especially difficult to accept are the victims who were taken hostage in the course of acting to help people in need in war-torn Syria. The Islamic State's latest victim was one of those, a brave and good-hearted man killed by heartless people hiding behind masks.

An Islamic State video released Saturday appeared to show the decapitated body of Japanese hostage Kenji Goto, 47, a video journalist drawn to covering the suffering of civilians in war zones. He went into Islamic State-held territory to find his countryman, Haruna Yukawa, who had been captured by the terror group. Yukawa was killed prior to Goto after Japan refused to pay $200 million in ransom for the men.

Goto's death seems like the defeat of good by evil, but the power of his selflessness did not die with him. His death has engaged Japan in the struggle against the Islamic State and adds to the global forces intent on the terrorists' defeat. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to fight the Islamic State in a way that honors Goto's concerns. "We will increase our humanitarian aid, including food and medical support," he said.

Goto's mother, Junko Ishido, said Sunday that despite her grief she does not want to seek vengeance. "I'm shedding tears of sorrow, I just can't think of any words to say. But I don't want this sorrow to create a chain of hatred," she said.

What she asked for was understanding. "My son's final act was to go to Syria to help a fellow Japanese," she said. "Please understand his kindness and courage."

The world understands that, ultimately, kindness and courage like Goto's will defeat the forces that so cruelly and so unjustly took his life.