The Islamic State has reportedly beheaded James Foley, an American photojournalist who went missing in Syria more than a year ago.
The Huffington Post reported on Tuesday that videos and images of Foley’s beheading had emerged on Tuesday. The new media, posted to a YouTube video, showed a man on his knees. That man identified himself as James Foley and read a statement before a masked man stepped behind him, put a knife to his throat, and apparently decapitated him.
Reportedly, Foley went missing from Syria in November of 2012. Foley had been covering the Syrian civil war, and observers believed that he was being held in Damascus.
While the video itself – entitled “A Message to #America (from the #IslamicState)” – is graphic and disturbing, the message it sends is as unsettling. Foley appears to have been forced to denounce the United States and its bombardment campaign, which has targeted the Islamic State in recent weeks.
“My message to my beloved parents,” Foley says, appearing to read from a prepared statement, “save me some dignity, and don’t accept any meager compensation for my death from the same people who effectively hammered the last nail in my coffin with their recent aerial campaign in Iraq.”
American military strikes in Iraq are the central target of the new video.
“Think about what you are doing,” Foley says, addressing his brother John, a member of the American military. “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. Think, John, who did they kill? Did they think about you or me or our family when they made that decision?
“I died that day, John. When your colleagues dropped that bombon those people, they signed my death certificate.
“I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope of freedom and seeing my family again, but that ship has sailed. I guess, all in all, I wish I wasn’t an American.”
“This is James Wright Foley, an American citizen of your country,” the Islamic State member then says. “As a government, you have been at the forefront of the aggression toward the Islamic State. You have plotted against us and have gone far out of your way to find reasons to interfere in our affairs. Today, your military Air Force is attacking us daily in Iraq. Your strikes have caused casualties among Muslims.
“Any aggression toward the Islamic State is an aggression toward Muslims from all walks of life who have accepted the Islamic Caliphate as their leadership. So any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic Caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.”
The militant then puts the knife to Foley’s neck, and the video fades out. When it fades back in, Foley’s severed head can be seen atop his orange jumpsuit-clad body.
The video later presents another man, also on his knees. That man is identified as American journalist Steven Sotloff. The Islamic State member behind Sotloff says that his future depends on the “next decision” by President Obama. Sotloff is a freelance journalist who went missing in Syria in August 2013.
“The life of this American citizen, Obama,” the militant says, “depends on your next decision.”
The “Free James Foley” Facebook page commented on the video on Tuesday afternoon, saying that “We know that many of you are looking for confirmation or answers. Please be patient until we all have more information, and keep the Foleys in your thoughts and prayers.”