by Saleem Krichi
The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) was created as a strong military force during the fight against the current Syrian regime under the leadership of Dr. Ibrahim al-Badri al-Samarrai, aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. ISIS gained control of parts of Northern and Eastern Syria and quickly moved over to gain control of Northern Iraq and declare an Islamic state in June 2014. Since then, reports of various war crimes have spurred the US government to launch numerous regular airstrikes on ISIS.
James Wright Foley, an American freelance reporter, was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012. On August 19, a video was released by ISIS showing his execution. Foley was born on December 28, 1953, in Rochester, New Hampshire. He graduated from Marquette University in 1996, the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2003, and the Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2008. He started his career as a teacher but later became a photojournalist working for the Stars and Stripes, Agence France-Presse, and the GlobalPost.
In April 2011, Foley was captured by pro-government forces in Libya. His release was negotiated and he returned to finish reporting on the Libyan civil war. He eventually began reporting on the Syrian civil war until his abduction. Foley’s status remained uncertain until a video was released showing his beheading by an ISIS militant. ISIS requested a ransom of over 100 million dollars for the release of Foley, but the USA government has a stated policy of not negotiating with any group they consider a “terrorist organization”. The refusal to pay the ransom, coupled with the constant airstrikes, are the reasons ISIS claims to have executed Foley.
ISIS has also beheaded journalist Steven Sotloff if the airstrikes do not stop. Sotloff, born May 11 1983, was raised in Pinecrest, Florida. He graduated from Kimball Union Acadamy in Meriden, New Hampshire. From 2002 to 2004 he attended UCF to study journalism. He studied in 2005 and 2008 at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliva in Israel. He was kidnapped in Syria on August 4, 2013.
He began working during the Arab Spring traveling all over North Africa and the Middle East. Time was his main employer, but he also worked with Media Line, World Affairs, The National Interest, Foreign Policy, and Christian Science Monitor.
After the execution of Foley, President Barack Obama issued a 5 minute statement. He stated that he had spoken with the Foley family, saying “We are heartbroken at their loss and we join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.”
He later stated “ISIS speaks for no religion…The world is shaped by people like Jim Foley…The USA will continue to do what we must do to protect our people, we will be vigilant and relentless. When people harm Americans anywhere we do what is necessary to see that justice is done…A group like ISIS has no place in the 21st century…We will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope.”
President Obama’s threats were carried out through various airstrikes prompting ISIS to carry out the execution of Sotloff on September 2, 2014. The militant stated in the video “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings and on Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings. So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”