Former Stars and Stripes reporter James Foley beheaded by Islamic State
The Islamic State militant group claimed Tuesday to have beheaded an American photojournalist in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.
A video released online purported to show the execution of James Foley after he recited a statement in which he called the U.S. government “my real killers.” A second prisoner, said to be Steven Joel Sotloff — like Foley, an American journalist who disappeared while covering Syria’s civil war — then appears in the video.
The masked executioner, speaking with what sounds like a British accent, identifies Sotloff and says that “the life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”
U.S. intelligence officials said they were still evaluating the video and could not immediately authenticate it.
Foley, a former Stars and Stripes reporter, deployed to Afghanistan for Stripes in 2011. He was working in Syria as a freelance journalist for the Boston-based news website GlobalPost when he disappeared on Nov. 22, 2012. GlobalPost co-founder Charles M. Sennott said that the organization was preparing a statement.
A woman who answered the telephone at the home of Foley’s parents declined to comment. A Facebook page devoted to Foley’s freedom said: “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.”
According to the website FreeJamesFoley.org, he was the oldest of five children and had reported independently from the Middle East for five years.
Sotloff, a freelancer who worked for several news organizations, disappeared in Syria in August 2013.
In a separate message posted by the Islamic State, the group warned Monday that it would attack Americans “in any place” in response to U.S. airstrikes. “We will drown all of you in blood,” it said.
The Tuesday video of Foley included a clip of President Obama’s Aug. 7 announcement that he had authorized U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq.
“We have seen a video that purports to be the murder of U.S. citizen James Foley by ISIL,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the National Security Council. The Islamic State is also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL. “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.”
Patrick Dickson of the Stars and Stripes staff contributed to this report.