American officials confirmed the authenticity of a YouTube video in which a Rochester, New Hampshire photojournalist is seen beheaded by Islamic militants in Iraq.
James Foley went missing in 2012 while reporting on the Syrian civil war for the Boston-based media company GlobalPost. The AP reports that Foley was kidnapped by militants who stopped his car in a contested area and had not been seen since.
U.S. Special Operations forces reportedly attempted, but failed, to rescue Foley and other Americans detained in Syria in a secret mission this summer that left one U.S. serviceman injured.
Foley worked in several war zones through the years, including Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, and Iraq. It was the second time Foley had been abducted, after he was kidnapped and subsequently released while on assignment in Libya in 2011.
GlobalPost CEO Philip Balboni told reporters Foley’s family received an e-mail from his kidnappers that was “full of rage against the United States” and stated they planned to execute the journalist. Balboni said pleas to spare Foley went unheeded.
The video of his murder, uploaded by ISIL, depicts a kneeling Foley dressed in orange amid a desert landscape with a masked executioner behind him.
“I call on my friends, family, and loved ones to rise up against my real killers, the US government,” Foley is heard to say in the video (you can read a full transcript here). “For what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality. My message to my beloved parents, save me some dignity, and don’t accept some meager compensation, for my death, from the same people who effectively hit the last nail in my coffin with their recent aerial campaign in Iraq.”
Foley’s killer, speaking with a British accent, denounces American air strikes in Iraq as “an aggression towards Muslims from all walks of life who have accepted Islamic Caliphate as their leadership.”
He is then seen killing Foley and later grabbing another man believed to be missing journalist Steven Sotloff.
“The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision,” he said, gesturing to Sotloff.
Pres. Obama told reporters in Martha’s Vineyard that “the entire world is appalled” by Foley’s murder.
“No just God would stand for what they did yesterday or every single day,” he said. “A group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century...They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery.”
“There has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it doesn’t spread,” he added.
“We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim,” Foley’s mother Diane wrote on a Facebook page started to support the missing journalist.
She lauded her son’s work “trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people” and encouraged ISIL to release their other hostages.