The Islamic State (IS) has released an unauthenticated graphic video titled “A message to America” showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley leaving the US government “appalled” by his murder.
James Foley, age 40, working as a freelance photographer for Agence France Presse (AFP), went missing in Syria two years ago. His whereabouts were unknown until the video showing him being slaughtered by an IS militant was spread online today.
Foley was forced to give a message before his beheading bearing the responsibility of his death on the American government. “I call on my friends, family, and loved ones to rise up against my real killers, the US government, for what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality,” he said.
Foley also directed his message to his brother John who is a member of the US air force saying, “Think about what you are doing, think about the lives you destroy, including those of your own family. I call on you John, think about who made the decision to bomb Iraq recently, and kill those people, whoever they may have been.”
Foley’s executioner, who spoke British English directed his message to US President Barack Obama before beheading Foley saying, “You are no longer fighting an insurgency. We are an Islamic army, and a state that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims worldwide. So effectively any aggression toward the Islamic State, is an aggression against Muslims from all walks of life, who have accepted the Islamic caliphate as their leadership.”
A masked Islamic State militant speaks next to a man purported to be US journalist Steven Sotloff at an unknown location in this still image from an undated video posted on a social media website (photo: Reuters)
The video also showed another US journalist that was reportedly missing, Steven Sotloff, whom they threatened to kill if Obama does not reconsider his involvement in Iraq. An IS militant holding Sotloff threatened Obama saying, “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”
Sotloff, a freelance journalist who was writing for TIME and the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), has been missing since August 2013. Although his twitter account said he was based in Libya, his last tweets mention that he was in Syria. It is believed that this is where he went missing.
IS’ threats come after the US conducted a number of air strikes against their strongholds over the weekend using fighter jets and drones, leading to the recapture of the Mosul Dam by Iraqi and Kurdish forces.
Caitlin Hayden, spokesperson for the White House National Security Council, commented on the video saying, “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.”
Foley’s mother posted a message on Facebook mourning her son that was murdered by IS militants saying, “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”.
Over the past two years, Syria was ranked as the most dangerous country for journalists. Nearly 70 journalists were killed while covering the civil war that has torn the country. Over 80 other journalists are missing or were kidnapped to date. The exact number of missing journalists is unknown as their whereabouts are typically unpublicised.