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Middle East

IS militants ‘behead’ missing US journalist in gruesome video

© AFP | James Foley in Libya in September 2011.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-08-21

Islamic State insurgents released a video on Tuesday that appeared to show the beheading of US journalist James Foley, who went missing in Syria nearly two years ago.

The horrifying video, titled “A Message To America,” was posted on social media sites. It was not immediately possible to verify its authenticity.

Distributed online by known Islamic State sources, the carefully edited five-minute video claims that Foley was killed after US President Barack Obama ordered air strikes against IS positions in northern Iraq.

The apparent execution is carried out in an open desert area with no immediate signs as to whether it is in Iraq or Syria, by a black-clad masked militant who speaks in English with a British accent.

US mission to rescue Foley failed

President Barack Obama sent US troops to Syria this summer to rescue a number of Americans held by a violent extremist group, including slain journalist James Foley, but they did not find the hostages, senior Obama administration officials said Wednesday.

The officials said the rescue mission was authorised after intelligence agencies believed they had identified the location inside Syria where the hostages were being held. But the several dozen special operations troops who were dropped by aircraft into Syria did not find them and engaged in a fire-fight with Islamic State group militants before departing.

The officials said a number of militants, but no Americans, were killed. One American sustained a minor injury when an aircraft was hit, according to the officials.


Foley, who reported in the Middle East for five years, was kidnapped on November 22, 2012, by unidentified gunmen.

Foley's mother said on Tuesday her son gave his life to expose the suffering of the Syrian people and she asked his kidnappers to release their other captives.

“He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person,” Diane Foley said in a post on a Facebook page that was created to rally support for the American journalist.

“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,” Foley said in the 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,” she said.

'Brutal murder'

The White House National Security Council said US intelligence agencies were working to determine the authenticity of the video.

“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,” NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

The White House said President Barack Obama had been briefed about the video by his deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes.

Foley was an experienced correspondent who had covered the war in Libya before heading to Syria to follow the revolt against Bashar al-Assad’s regime for the Global Post, AFP and other outlets.

His friends said he was an intrepid journalist who knew the dangers he faced. In 2011, he was held in Libya for 45 days by forces loyal to former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

“James was a hard-working and gutsy journalist who charged headfirst into dangerous situations in order to get the story. My heart breaks for his family,” said reporter Carmen Gentile, who met Foley in 2012 when they both attended a medical training for freelance journalists working in war zones.

On Twitter, hundreds of users urged the public to neither watch nor share the video.

Second journalist held

His purported captors also claimed to be holding US journalist Steven Sotloff and said his life depended on Obama’s next move.

“The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision,” the masked man says as he holds a prisoner named as Sotloff.

The sweep by Islamic State militants through northern Iraq, bringing it close to Baghdad and in control of the country’s second largest city, Mosul, drew US airstrikes in the country for the first time since the end of the American occupation in 2011.

The Sunni militant group has declared a caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria in areas it controls.


Date created : 2014-08-20


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