Kurdistan Region deports Japanese citizen for supporting the Islamic State

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Japanese journalist Kohsuke Tsuneoka with an ISIS flag in the background. File photo

ARA News

Erbil – The Kurdistan Regional Government deported a Japanese citizen on Monday for having links to the Islamic State (ISIS). According to Kurdish authorities, the deportee claimed to be a journalist, before being transported to Japan through Erbil International Airport.

“On October 19, a Japanese national, Mr Kohsuke Tsuneoka, also known as  Shamil K Tsuneoka, was detained near Mount Zerdk, East of Mosul, for links to the Islamic State,” the Kurdistan Region Security Council (KRSC) told ARA News.

After an investigation by the Kurdistan Region’s Counter-Terrorism Department, agents in Iraqi Kurdistan found out that Tsuneoka was in close contact with ISIS members through his smartphone.

“Our security services remained in dialogue with Japanese authorities throughout his detention about the potential charges against him. It was decided to hand over Mr Tsuneoka to Japanese authorities,” the KRSC told ARA News.

Kohsuke Tsuneoka converted to Islam in February 2000 and renamed himself Shamil. He is also suspected of helping a student travel abroad to join ISIS.

According to the International Business Times, an American news outlet, Kosuke Tsuneoka has been traveling to Muslim-majority countries since the 1990s in order to build contacts with Islamist and jihadist groups. He escaped to Vietnam in 2015, after the Japanese government began an inquiry into his contacts with foreign terrorists.

The Modern Tokyo Times called Tsuneoka “a so-called journalist” and demanded the Japanese government prosecute him. “It is unfitting for the Japanese government to assist this individual to any degree because he needs to be held accountable to the Iraqi people, who he betrayed,” it said.

“Sadly for the Japanese government, certain estranged individuals have entered zones of danger – some based on lofty ideals or adventurism – and others, if true, to assist the most barbaric sectarian group in the world,” the Tokyo Times added.

Japan’s Kyodo News agency reported that Tsuneoka was covering the battle to recapture the city of Mosul from the Islamic State. However, Kurdish security officials believe that he was an enemy operative, providing information to ISIS.

Japan is a member of the US-led coalition against ISIS. In 2015, ISIS jihadists videotaped themselves beheading two Japanese journalists, Haruna Yukawa and Kenji Goto, as a warning to the government of Japan.

When ISIS took Kenji Goto hostage in October 2014, ISIS invited Tsuneoka to be an interpreter. However, he was forbidden to travel to Syria and Tsuneoka was detained for 24 hours by the Japanese police.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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