A video posted online Tuesday by The Islamic State showed the beheading of American journalist James Foley who was kidnapped in November 2012 while he covered the Syrian civil war.
The group, also known as ISIS, posted the video on YouTube. In it, Foley, wearing orange, is seen kneeling next to a man dressed in black. He reads a statement, presumably written by his captors. In it, he claims that America is his “real killer.”
“I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope for freedom to see my family once again,” Foley said in the video.
He continues with a message to his parents: “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.”
In a slightly quivering voice, Foley then calls on his brother, John, whom he said serves in the U.S. Air Force, to “think about who made the decision to bomb Iraq recently and kill those people, whoever they may have been. I died that day, John, when your colleagues dropped the bomb on those people. They signed my death certificate.”
After his statement, the terrorist moves behind Foley to execute him with a knife.
Government officials are investigating the validity of this video.
“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,” National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
Foley was previously held captive while reporting on the civil war in Libya in 2011. He was released, and then he returned to the Middle East to cover the Syrian civil war and was taken captive on Thanksgiving Day, 2012. He was forced into a vehicle by men with guns and not heard from again.
The video also features another American journalist Steven Sotloff, who was kidnapped at the Syria/Turkey border in 2013.
According to the video, Sotloff’s life depends on what President Obama does next in Iraq.
Foley’s mother, Diane, released a statement Tuesday:
“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. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.”
Foley’s alma mater, Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wis. also released a statement:
The Marquette community is deeply saddened by the death of alumnus and freelance journalist, James Foley, Arts ’96. We extend our heartfelt prayers and wishes for healing to James’ family and friends during this very difficult time.
James, who majored in history at Marquette, had a heart for social justice and used his immense talents to tell the difficult stories in the hopes that they might make a difference in the world – a measure of his character for which we could not be prouder.
Following his first capture in 2011, after he safely returned from Libya, James expressed in a letter to the Marquette community the power and strength he drew not only from his own prayer, but the prayers of his family and friends. As a community, we offer this prayer for peace.