Japanese journalist denies allegation he is an IS sympathiser

A Japanese journalist deported from Iraq denied on Thursday allegations by Kurdish officials that he is a sympathizer of the Islamic State extremist group. Kosuke Tsuneoka told reporters in Tokyo that he was in Mosul only to report as a journalist on the battle to retake the IS-held city. Iraqi and Kurdish troops are currently fighting to expel the militant group out of Mosul. “Let me remind you that I’m not an IS member, not even a supporter,” said the Muslim convert who also goes by Shamil Tsuneoka.

I’m fundamentally against the belief of the Islamic State group … That is not the Islam that I believe in.

Kosuke Tsuneoka, Japanese freelance journalist

Tsuneoka, a journalist who has covered militant groups in the Middle East, was arrested on October 27 after he was going through a security check and found to be carrying a key chain with an IS logo. He said it was given to him by a bus passenger on an earlier reporting trip. He said he kept it hoping to trace its origin. He said it was merely his “stupidity” to have kept the key chain in a pocket of his backpack that he handed in for a security check. He was handcuffed at the spot and taken into custody for interrogation by Kurdish intelligence officials, Tsuneoka said. “Obviously I was suspected as an IS member trying to sneak into a news conference,” he said.