The Islamist terrorist group ISIS (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) posted a gruesome video August 19 that appeared to confirm the beheading of American journalist James Foley, who went missing in 2012 while covering the conflict in Syria. It was not immediately clear where the execution took place.
The video, bearing the title “A Message to America,” shows a man confirmed to be the 40-year-old journalist, dressed in orange and kneeling in a desert setting. Hovering over him is a black robed and masked thug with a rifle slung over his shoulder.
As reported by TheBlaze.com, the video includes the message: “Obama authorizes military operations against the Islamic State effectively placing America upon a slippery slope towards a new war front against Muslims.”
Before being beheaded in the video, Foley read a message, believed to have been scripted by his captors, calling on “my friends, family, and loved ones to rise up against my real killers: the U.S. government.” Before the execution Foley said that “I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope for freedom to see my family once again.”
The video included footage of another captured U.S. journalist, Steven Sotloff, whom ISIS has threatened to kill as well, unless the U.S ceases its airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision,” warns a voice on the video.
Sotloff, a contributor to Time and Foreign Policy magazines, was abducted at the Syria-Turkey border in 2013.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, some 20 journalists are currently missing in the area, including freelance U.S. writer Austin Tice, who was contributing articles to the Washington Post when he disappeared in Syria in August 2012. He has not been heard from since.
Following the release of the video of Foley's execution, the Obama administration responded briefly, with White House spokesmen Eric Schultz saying that Obama had been briefed about the situation and “will continue to receive updates.”
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden told reporters that “we have seen a video that purports to be the murder of U.S. citizen James Foley by [ISIS]. The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available.”
Foley disappeared in late November 2012, in northwest Syria, where he was covering the civil conflict for the U.S.-based news source GlobalPost. He was reportedly abducted by gunmen and was not seen again until the posting of the video.
Foley's parents, John and Diane Foley, confirmed that the man in the video was their son, with Mrs. Foley taking to Facebook to make an emotional statement: “We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world. We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person.”
CNN noted that Foley's execution “recalled the murder of Daniel Pearl, the Wall Street Journal correspondent who was kidnapped while reporting in Pakistan in January 2002. His killing was captured on video and posted online by al-Qaeda. It also harkened to the videotaped beheadings of Americans Nicholas Berg, Eugene Armstrong, and Jack Hensley carried out by al Qaeda during the height of the Iraq War.”
Following the posting of the video, American lawmakers began responding, with one, U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) saying: “ ... ISIS method of diplomacy are beheadings, crucifixions, mass executions or live burials, and enslavement of women and forced marriages. These are evil people that need to be defeated.”
In recent weeks ISIS has mounted a public campaign of intimidation against the United States, with warnings that it has terrorists on the ground in America. On August 9 ISIS operatives tweeted a photo of a hand holding a note in front of the White House. “We are in your state,” read the message. “We are in your cities. We are in your streets.”
U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said on the CBS program Face the Nation that many of the ISIS terrorists fighting in Iraq and Syria may have spent time in the United States, and would likely have little problem using their passports to return. “Thousands of individuals now signing up with ISIS to fight their jihad in Syria and Iraq have Western passports,” he said. “That's what's so dangerous about this.”
He added that the terrorist group al-Qaeda could also weigh in, in an effort to see who could make the next successful strike on U.S. soil. “And so now you have two competing terrorist organizations,” Rogers explained. “Both of them want to get their credentials to the point where they can say, 'We are the premier terrorist organization.' Both want to conduct attacks in the West for that reason. And guess what? That means we lose at the end. If either one of those organizations is successful, we lose.”
Senator Johnson emphasized that “we need to be highly concerned about this. This threat is a gathering storm. It's not going away. We may be war-weary. But I'll tell you, [ISIS] is not war-weary. They're highly trained; they are highly organized. They have been very patient setting up this caliphate [in Iraq and Syria], and their long-term aim really is to use that base of operation against the West.”
As reported recently by The New American, although the United States is conducting airstrikes in an apparent effort to neutralize the ability of Islamic terrorists to murder and oppress Christians and other religious minorities in Iraq and Syria, it is U.S. intrusion in the area in the first place that empowered the terrorist structure. “From sending weapons and providing training to the same jihadists in Syria who later crossed into Iraq, to tacitly endorsing the bankrolling of Islamic terror groups by supposed American allies,” wrote The New American's Alex Newman, “U.S. foreign policy has been critical in the emergence of the monstrously barbaric self-styled Islamic State 'caliphate' formerly known as ISIS.”
Newman noted that U.S. officials admitted “that many of the weapons being used by the Islamic State terrorists to butcher Christians, Shias, and other Iraqis were actually paid for by U.S. taxpayers before being seized by the rampaging barbarians. Before that, other American weapons now in the hands of those terrorists were acquired in Syria, where the Obama administration and its allies were fomenting and supporting 'jihad' in a half-baked plan to overthrow the anti-ISIS Assad dictatorship.”