James Foley (journalist)

Last updated
James Foley
James Foley in 2011.jpg
Foley during an interview with CNN in 2011
Born
James Wright Foley

(1973-10-18)October 18, 1973
Diedc. August 19, 2014(2014-08-19) (aged 40)
Cause of death Beheading
NationalityAmerican
Alma mater Marquette University (BA)
University of Massachusetts Amherst (MFA)
Northwestern University (MA)
OccupationJournalist
Website jamesfoleyfoundation.org

James Wright Foley (October 18, 1973 – c. August 19, 2014) was an American journalist and video reporter. While working as a freelance war correspondent during the Syrian Civil War, he was abducted on November 22, 2012, in northwestern Syria. He was beheaded in August 2014 purportedly as a response to American airstrikes in Iraq, thus becoming the first American citizen killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). [1]

Contents

Before he became a journalist, Foley was an instructor for Teach For America. In 2008, he became an embedded journalist with USAID-funded development projects in Iraq, and in 2011 he wrote for the military newspaper Stars and Stripes in Afghanistan, and GlobalPost in Libya. There, he was captured by Gaddafi loyalist forces and held for 44 days. The next year, James Foley was captured in Syria while he was working for Agence France-Presse and GlobalPost.

Early life

Foley was born in Evanston, Illinois, [2] [3] the oldest of five children born to Diane and John Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire. [4] He grew up in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, where he attended Kingswood Regional High School. [5] He was raised as a Catholic. [6] [7] In 1996, he graduated from Marquette University, earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in History and Spanish, [8] followed by a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2002, and a Master of Arts from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in 2008. [9] [10] [11] [12]

Career

Foley began his career as a teacher in Arizona for Teach For America (TFA). In 1999, Foley decided to pursue his MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Upon completion of his MFA in 2003, Foley returned to Phoenix for one year before relocating to Chicago in the summer of 2004 and taking a job teaching writing to young felons at the Cook County Boot Camp. In 2007, Foley enrolled in Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, which signaled the beginning of his career as a journalist. [13] Starting in 2008, Foley worked for USAID-funded 'Tatweer' development projects in Baghdad. [14] He helped organize conferences and training seminars for a program designed to rebuild Iraq's civil service, crippled by decades of isolation and autocratic administration. In 2010, he left Iraq and applied for military embed-journalist accommodation status in Afghanistan to become a freelance journalist. [15] He was an embedded journalist with U.S troops in Iraq, where his brother was serving as an officer in the United States Air Force. [15] In January 2011, Foley joined Stars and Stripes as a reporter on assignment in Afghanistan. Two months later he was removed from his post after being detained by U.S. military police at Kandahar Air Field on suspicion of possessing and using marijuana. On March 3, 2011, Foley admitted that he had marijuana in his possession and resigned his position. [16] [17] [18]

In 2011, while working for the Boston-based GlobalPost , Foley went to Libya to cover the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, embedding himself with rebel fighters. [13]

2011 detention in Libya

According to media reports, on the morning of April 5, 2011, Foley, fellow American Clare Morgana Gillis, a freelance reporter ( Atlantic Monthly , Christian Science Monitor , USA Today ), as well as Spanish photographer Manu Brabo, were attacked and captured near Brega, Libya, by forces loyal to Gaddafi; fellow photojournalist Anton Hammerl was killed. [19] [20] [21] When the shooting started, Foley and Gillis both heard Hammerl yell out, "Help!" Foley, Gillis, and Brabo were beaten by the pro-Gaddafi forces and then taken as their prisoners. [22] [23] [20] Foley stated: "Once I saw Anton lying there dead, it was like everything had changed. The whole world has changed. I don't even know that I felt some of the blows." [24] Gillis said, "We all glanced down at him as we were being taken by, and I saw him just lying in a pool of blood. And then we were put into the truck and our heads were pushed down. We weren't able to see anything that happened after that to him." [25]

Foley was released from jail 44 days later. [21] On May 18, Foley, Gillis and Brabo, as well as Nigel Chandler (an English journalist also being held), were brought to the Rixos Hotel in Tripoli after release. Foley returned to Milwaukee to thank the community for praying for his safe return. [26] In an interview, he said, "You go through different emotions when you're in captivity... These weird extreme ideas of where you are based on this capture. You don't want to be defined as that guy who got captured in 2011. I believe front line journalism is important [without it] we can't tell the world how bad it might be." [27] Foley also wrote an article for Marquette Magazine about how rosary prayers helped get him through his captivity. [28] [29] His experience of being captured did not deter him; he quickly returned to Libya, and was at the scene of Muammar Gaddafi's capture with GlobalPost correspondent Tracey Shelton on October 20, 2011. [30]

Kidnapping in Syria, hostage negotiations, and rescue attempt

During the Syrian Civil War, Foley continued working as a freelancer for GlobalPost, in addition to other media outlets, such as Agence France-Presse. [31] On November 22, 2012, Foley was kidnapped by an organized gang after departing from an internet café, along with his translator and British journalist John Cantlie, in northwestern Syria while on their way to the Turkish border. [32] [33] Their taxi driver and Foley's translator were not taken. [34] [35] They were reportedly working on a film depicting Cantlie's abduction and dramatic rescue by four members of the Free Syrian Army in July 2012. [36] [37]

Sources close to the family said that they believed Foley was kidnapped by the Shabiha militia, a group loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad. He was later reportedly held in a Syrian Air Force Intelligence complex in Damascus. [38] [39]

During negotiations from November to December 2013, Foley's captors demanded 100 million euros in ransom (approximately 132 million U.S. dollars) from Foley's family, GlobalPost (his employer), and the U.S. in exchange for his release. [18] [40] [41] The chief executive officer of GlobalPost, Philip Balboni, stated that the company spent millions on efforts to bring Foley home, including hiring an international security firm, Kroll Inc. [42] In September 2013, the firm was able to locate Foley and track his location. He was moved many times during his captivity. [41] [43] [44] Kroll's research led to GlobalPost reporting that Foley was being held in a Damascus prison run by Syrian Air Force Intelligence, along with at least one other Western journalist, possibly Austin Tice. [42]

In June 2014, ISIS released Danish photojournalist and fellow hostage Daniel Rye Ottosen, and Ottosen called Foley's family to recite a memorized message that came to be known as Foley's final letter. In it, Foley addressed members of his family, and described his captivity in a cell with seventeen other hostages, who passed the time with improvised strategy games and lectures. The family released the letter on their Facebook page shortly after Foley's death. [45]

In July 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama authorized a "substantial and complex" rescue operation after the U.S. intelligence community said a "broad collection of intelligence" led them to believe that the hostages were being held at a specific location in Syria. However, the mission failed because the hostages had been moved. [46] The operation involved special operations forces from multiple branches of the US military, including: the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment, helicopters, fixed wing aircraft, and drones. [47] When Delta Force commandos landed in the eastern Syrian city of Raqqa, they were met with gunfire, and it became apparent that the hostages had been moved. [48] ISIS suffered numerous casualties, while American forces suffered a single minor injury. The operation was only declassified after Foley's death. It represented the first confirmation of U.S. troops operating on the ground within Syria during the Syrian Civil War. [46]

On August 12, 2014, ISIS sent Foley's parents an email saying that U.S. government—unlike other governments— had refused to pay ransoms or negotiate prisoner exchanges, and saying that they would kill Foley. [49] The email's authors said they had left the U.S. alone since its "disgraceful defeat in Iraq," but would "avenge" the U.S. bombings, initially with the death of Foley. [49] John Foley, the father of James, said he didn't realize how "brutal" his captors were. Even after receiving the email, he held out hope that his son's release could still be negotiated. The family had reportedly been preparing to break U.S. law by offering to pay a ransom for his release. Due to his nationality, Foley's captors subjected him to regular torture and mock executions during his captivity. [50]

Beheading

Foley's whereabouts were unknown to most until August 19, 2014, when ISIS uploaded a video to YouTube entitled "A Message to America". Though quickly deleted, it continued to circulate elsewhere on the Internet. [note 1] Filmed in several takes, [53] the video started with Obama's announcement of the first U.S. airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq. It then cut to Foley kneeling in the desert next to a masked, black-clad ISIL terrorist and reading a long message expressing regret. [9] [54] After Foley finished the message, the executioner condemned U.S. airstrikes and threatened that any aggression by America would "result in the bloodshed of your people." [55]

The actual beheading took place in less than ten seconds, although the entire recording was longer than four-and-a-half minutes. [54] [55] It did not show the actual moment of Foley's decapitation, unlike previous beheading videos, which typically showed the entire act. [54] [56] After Foley's beheaded corpse was shown, his executioner revealed that ISIL was holding another American journalist, Time magazine contributor Steven Joel Sotloff, and that he would be killed if President Obama failed to halt air strikes against ISIL. [9] [57] A video showing the beheading of Sotloff was released on September 2, 2014. [58]

The video of Foley being beheaded was shot at an unknown desert location, and media sources gave the name Jihadi John to the man (later discovered to be Mohammed Emwazi) who made the threats and spoke with a "Multicultural London English" accent. [59] [60] The video was produced and distributed by Al Hayat Media Center, a media outlet of ISIL and part of its propaganda arm, the Al-Itisam Establishment for Media Production, which targeted Western and non-Arabic speaking audiences. [61] [62]

Foley's family confirmed his death on August 19. [63] [64] His mother, Diane Foley, posted on the Free James Foley page on Facebook: "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". [8]

On August 20, the United States National Security Council confirmed that the video was authentic. [65] ISIL appeared to have used post-production techniques on the execution video. [66] [67] [68]

On August 22, fellow hostage Peter Moore, who had been held with Foley before his release, called on their captors to release Foley's body to his family. [69] British analyst Eliot Higgins offered photographic and video forensic evidence that Foley was executed at a spot in the hills south of the Syrian city Raqqa. [70] [71] [72]

Foley's remains were never recovered, despite efforts to do so. [73]

Death of perpetrator

The U.S. Justice Department conducted a criminal investigation into Foley's death. Attorney General Eric Holder said in 2014: "We will not forget what happened and people will be held accountable, one way or the other." [74] Mohammed Emwazi, who murdered Foley, was killed in a targeted drone strike in Raqqa in November 2015. [75]

Video

In response to the widespread posting, viewing, and commenting on the video depicting Foley's murder, Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe warned "We would like to remind the public that viewing, downloading or disseminating extremist material within the UK may constitute an offence under terrorism legislation." He went on to explain that while viewing the video was technically a crime, his officers would be focused on tracking down those who shared the footage or glorified it. [76] Twitter and YouTube executives also warned objectionable material would be deleted and accounts that posted it, or spread it, would be blocked. [76]

Legacy

Pope Francis called Foley's family to express his condolences. [77] Foley's brother said he believed the U.S. government could have done more to save James during hostage negotiations, adding he hoped the government would "take another look at our approach to terrorist and hostage negotiation." [78] In 2014, Foley's family started the James W. Foley Legacy Fund to work in three areas: "building a resource center for families of American hostages and fostering a global dialog on governmental policies in hostage crises; supporting American journalists reporting from conflict zones and promoting quality educational opportunities for urban youth." [79] Former students and colleagues from Lowell elementary (where he taught for three years) have since started a scholarship in his name.

The James Foley Scholarship in the J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication was established at Marquette University in his honor. [80] [81]

On August 22, 2014, Indian sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik created a sculpture depicting the face of Foley, made of four tons of sand on the beach of Puri city in the eastern province of Odisha. The sculpture, with a message reading "Don't kill innocents!", drew a sizeable crowd on the beach. [82]

The Boston-based GlobalPost , for which Foley had been a contributor, released a statement saying, "While we continue to send staff correspondents to Syria, we no longer accept freelance work from that war zone." [83] Agence France-Presse (AFP) also released a statement saying that it would "no longer accept work from freelance journalists who travel to places where we ourselves would not venture." [84]

In 2016, the documentary film Jim: The James Foley Story was released, directed by Brian Oakes and distributed by Dogwoof.

English singer Sting wrote and recorded "The Empty Chair", a song about Foley's fate, appearing as the last track on his solo studio album 57th & 9th released in November 2016. [85] The song was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song.

According to Charlie Savage, writing in The New York Times , Foley's mother Diane has called for the individuals who murdered him and abused him, should be given a fair trial, not tried through a Guantanamo Military Commission. [86] She argued that an unfair trial would aid the terrorist cause.

The James W. Foley Legacy Foundation (JWFLF) was established following his death. His family and friends felt challenged to continue his legacy of commitment to the truth and compassion for those without a voice. The foundation seeks to "advocate for the safe return of Americans taken hostage [and] educate student journalists about staying safe in dangerous situations." [87]

See also

Notes

  1. A copy of the YouTube video that was posted to LiveLeak was deleted by that site out of concerns of promoting ISIS. [51] The legality of viewing or sharing the video in Britain has been questioned. [52]

Related Research Articles

A beheading video is a form of propaganda or snuff video in which hostages are graphically decapitated. It is often employed by groups seeking to instill shock or terror into a population, whilst beheading has been a widely employed public execution method since the ancient Greeks and Romans, videos of this type only began to arise in 2002 with the beheading of Daniel Pearl and the growth of the Internet in the Information Age which allowed groups to anonymously publish these videos for public consumption. The beheadings shown in these videos are usually not performed in a "classical" method – decapitating a victim quickly with a blow from a sword or axe – but by the relatively slow and tortuous process of slicing and sawing the victim's neck, while still alive, with a knife. Despite the number of groups and ideologies that employ this form of propaganda, the process is overwhelmingly associated with Islamic extremists.

Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant Salafi jihadist terrorist and militant group

The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, officially known as the Islamic State (IS) and also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh, is a militant Islamist group and a former unrecognised proto-state that follows a fundamentalist, Salafi jihadist doctrine of Sunni Islam. ISIL was founded by the Jordanian jihadist Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in 1999 and gained global prominence in early 2014 when it drove Iraqi government forces out of key cities in its Western Iraq offensive, followed by its capture of Mosul and the Sinjar massacre.

John Henry Cantlie is a British war photographer and correspondent.

International military intervention against ISIL Military actions against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

In response to rapid territorial gains made by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) during the first half of 2014, and its universally condemned executions, reported human rights abuses and the fear of further spillovers of the Syrian Civil War, many states began to intervene against it in both the Syrian Civil War and the Iraqi Civil War. Later, there were also minor interventions by some states against ISIL-affiliated groups in Nigeria and Libya.

Steven Sotloff American journalist

Steven Joel Sotloff was an American-Israeli journalist. In August 2013, he was kidnapped in Aleppo, Syria, and held captive by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS).

Jihadi John British murderer

Mohammed Emwazi was a British-Kuwaiti militiant believed to be the person seen in several videos produced by the Islamist extremist group ISIL showing the beheadings of a number of captives in 2014 and 2015. A group of his hostages nicknamed him "John" since he was part of a four-person terrorist cell with English accents whom they called "The Beatles"; the press later began calling him "Jihadi John".

Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary is a British former rapper and Islamist militant from Maida Vale, West London. He is the son of Adel Abdel Bari who confessed to murdering 224 people in the 1998 United States embassy bombings in Africa.

The 2014 rescue mission in Syria was an American led effort to locate and rescue hostages being held by ISIS forces. Plans to rescue the hostages were accelerated after the execution of journalist James Foley, Steven Sotloff, and Kayla Mueller by ISIS militants. A total of 14 hostages were held hostage by the IS at an undisclosed location. Though no soldiers were killed, the mission failed to locate and rescue the hostages.

ISIL beheading incidents Decapitation by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant

Beginning in 2014, a number of people from various countries were beheaded by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a radical Sunni Islamist group operating in Iraq and parts of Syria.

A Second Message to America is an undated beheading video published by the Islamic State media department Al-Furqan Media Productions.

"The Beatles", dubbed as such by their hostages because of their English accents, was an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) cell. Its members were nicknamed "John", "Paul", "George", and "Ringo" by the hostages, after the four members of the British rock group the Beatles. In November 2015, one of the militants was killed and one was arrested, and the final two were caught in early 2018, and transferred to U.S. military custody in 2019.

David Cawthorne Haines was a British aid worker who was captured by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in early 2013 and beheaded in early September 2014.

Peter Edward Kassig, also known as Abdul-Rahman Kassig, was an American aid worker who was beheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. He was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, United States. He was the adopted child of Ed, a school teacher, and Paula Kassig, a nurse.

Alan Henning was an English taxicab driver-turned-volunteer humanitarian aid worker. He was the fourth Western hostage killed by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) whose killing was publicised in a beheading video.

Human rights in ISIL-controlled territory

The state of human rights in the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is considered to be one of the worst in the 21st century, and has been severely criticised by many political and religious organisations, and individuals. Islamic State policies included severe acts of genocide, torture and slavery. The United Nations Commission on Human Rights has stated that the Islamic State "seeks to subjugate civilians under its control and dominate every aspect of their lives through terror, indoctrination, and the provision of services to those who obey". ISIS actions of extreme criminality, terror, recruitment and other activities has been documented in several regions worldwide, including countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, Europe and America.

Executions by ISIS refers here to killing by beheading, immolation, shooting or other means of military and civilian people by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ISIL has released a number of propaganda/publicity videos of beheadings or shootings of captives. Houtat Sulūk is reported to be a mass grave.

The portrayal of ISIL in American media has largely been negative. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has been linked in the American media to several atrocities throughout the Middle East. Most recently U.S. coverage has linked ISIL members to burning alive of Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh, beheadings of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and most recently, because the perpetrator of the June 2016 Orlando mass shooting- America's second deadliest- reportedly pledged allegiance to ISIL and its leader in a phone call to 911 operators just before the incident. The American public was introduced to ISIL with these actions. This contrasts with the renewed prominence of al-Qaeda after the September 11 attacks in the media. That coverage focused on the United States' response to the attacks, while the coverage of ISIL started with the organization itself and evolved to cover America's potential strategy.

Kenji Goto

Kenji Goto was a Japanese freelance video journalist covering wars and conflicts, refugees, poverty, AIDS, and child education around the world. In October 2014, he was captured and held hostage by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants after entering Syria in the hopes of rescuing Japanese hostage Haruna Yukawa. On 30 January 2015, he was beheaded by his captors following the breakdown of negotiations for his release.

In early 2014, the jihadist group Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant captured extensive territory in Western Iraq in the Anbar campaign, while counter-offensives against it were mounted in Syria. Raqqa in Syria became its headquarters. The Wall Street Journal estimated that eight million people lived under its control in the two countries.

This article contains a timeline of events from January 2015 to December 2015 related to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/ISIS). This article contains information about events committed by or on behalf of the Islamic State, as well as events performed by groups who oppose them.

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