‘Spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim they are innocents’: Brave mother of beheaded American journalist calls on ISIS to cease killing as she pays tribute to her ‘extraordinary son’

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  • American photojournalist James Wright Foley has been beheaded by ISIS forces
  • Foley has been missing since Thanksgiving 2012 while working in Syria
  • ISIS posted the extremely graphic video ‘A Message to America’ to social media
  • Foley speaks to camera before his death and labels the US his killers
  • Apparently coerced by his captors into speaking against his country
  • A masked and robed member of ISIS speaking English in what is thought to be a British accent addresses the camera as well
  • After the execution of Foley, the ISIS member says that missing American journalist Steven Joel Sotloff will be killed next
  • A man identified as Sotloff in a caption on the video is then paraded in front of the camera
  • Beheading comes one day after ISIS threat to America that ‘we will drown all you in blood’ for the US-aided Kurdish recapture of the Mosul Dam
  • President Obama is expected to comment on the video Wednesday

By James Nye for MailOnline and Ashley Collman for MailOnline

 

The mother of executed photo-journalist James Wright Foley, 40, has issued a statement after a video surfaced Tuesday showing his horrific beheading by ISIS terrorists as revenge for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

In a statement posted on the Free James Foley Facebook page, Diane Foley writes that she and husband John ‘have never been prouder of our son Jim’.

Mrs Foley writes that her son spent his life fighting to expose the suffering of the Syrian people, while pleading with his captors to spare the lives of remaining captive Steven Joel Sotloff, who also appears in the video as the group’s next target.

‘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.’

 

 

Foley, has been missing since November 2012, after being taken hostage at gunpoint while reporting from Taftanaz, in northern Syria, for the agency GlobalPost.

ISIS posted the extremely graphic video shot at an unknown location, titled ‘A Message to America’ to social media as proof of their barbaric actions.

In a chilling warning at the end of grisly film, the executioner, who speaks with what sounds like a British accent, parades another American journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, who went missing in August 2013, saying: ‘The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.

 

 

President Barack Obama was briefed on the video as he was flying back to the White House on Air Force One From his Martha’s Vineyard vacation. White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says the administration has seen the video.

She says that if it’s deemed genuine by the intelligence community, the US would be ‘appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist.’

Two U.S. officials have since confirmed anonymously that the man in the video is indeed Foley. One of the officials says President Obama will comment on the video on Wednesday.

FULL MESSAGE FROM JAMES WRIGHT FOLEY’S MOTHER:

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.

His family issued a statement through their Free James Foley organization, which has been working to free the journalist.

‘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.’

A family friend named Holly Rene spoke to the New York Post and said the Foleys are ‘falling apart with grief.’

‘I was just so hopeful Jimmy had, if they weren’t going to get any good news, that he would have been dead for a long time now and there was no suffering involved. And to think he went through two years just to have this ending, it’s beyond belief.

‘These savages have got to be stopped. It’s coming West.’

New Hampshire Rep Kelly Ayotte also issued a statement about Foley, who hails from the state: ‘If confirmed, this barbarous and heinous act shocks the conscience and underscores the truly evil nature of the terrorists we confront, who must be defeated.’

As the disturbing video infolds, Foley, dressed in orange and on his knees, is unflinching to the end as he addresses the camera before his death.

It appears the journalist has been coerced into blaming the United States by his brutal captors. His voice strong, but struggling at times to swallow as he battles against fear, he brands the US government his real killers as a man in black robes armed with a gun stands over him.

‘I GUESS I WISH I WASN’T AMERICAN’: PHOTOJOURNALIST JAMES WRIGHT FOLEY’S FINAL WORDS TO CAMERA BEFORE HIS DEATH

‘I call on my friends family and loved ones to rise up against my real killers, the US government. For what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality.

‘My message to my beloved parents: save me some dignity and don’t accept any (unclear, possibly says media) compensation for my death, from the same people who effectively hit the last nail in my coffin with a recent aerial campaign in Iraq.

‘I call on my brother John, who is/was (this part is also unclear) member of the US Air Force, think about what you are doing, think about lives you destroy including those of your own family.

‘I call on you John, think about who made the decision to bomb Iraq recently and kill those people, whoever they may have been.

‘Think John, who did they really kill? Did they think about me, you our family when they made that decision?

‘I died that day John, when your colleagues dropped that bomb on those people – they signed my death certificate.

‘I wish I had more time, I wish I could have the hope of freedom and see my family once again, but that ship has sailed. I guess all in all, I wish I wasn’t American.’

Foley, who has been missing for almost two years, also leaves a haunting message for his brother, John, who is thought to be in the US Air Force.

Referring to US airstrikes launched nearly two weeks ago in Iraq, Foley says: ‘I died that day, John, when your colleagues dropped that bomb on these people. They signed my death certificate’

As the appalling video unfolds, Foley blames the ‘complacency and criminality’ of the United States for his impending death.

In his final, awful message to the world, no doubt prepared for him by his captors, Foley pleads for more time and to have seen his family again.

In a final insult from his vengeful executioners, Foley is made to deny his birthright as a citizen of the United States.

‘I wish I had more time, I wish I could have the hope of freedom and see my family once again, but that ship has sailed. I guess all in all, I wish I wasn’t American,’ says Foley before his tragic death.

The reporter then stops speaking and his executioner steps forward. The masked, armed and black robe-clad man speaks in English in what is thought to be a British accent.

Members of the UK’s Associated Press pegged the accent to the South East of England and London, while others have claimed the accent resembles one from North Africa.

‘This is James Wright Foley, an American citizen of your country. As a government you have been at the forefront of the aggression towards the Islamic State,’ begins the executioner.

‘You have plotted against us and gone far out of your way to find reasons to interfere in our affairs. Today, your military airforce is attacking us daily in Iraq.

STILL ALIVE: ISIS THREATENS TO KILL AMERICAN JOURNALIST STEVEN JOEL SOTLOFF NEXT

At the end of the disturbing video, the masked ISIS operative issues a threat to kill another American journalist held captive if President Obama continues to order attacks against the group invading Iraq.

Freelance journalist Steven Joel Sotloff is paraded in front of the camera, and held by the collar of his shirt as the operatives says: ‘The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision’. 

Sotloff has been missing since August 2013, when he was kidnapped near Aleppo, Syria. 

He sent out his last tweet on August 3, talking about his hometown basketball team the Miami Heat.

According to his account, he was living in Benghazi, Libya at the time. 

ABC News foreign editor Jon Williams tweeted today that Sotloff’s family were previously advised not to go public with news of his disappearance. 

But a family friend wrote about Sotloff last December, saying he went missing August 4 and to pray for his return.

Sotloff, a graduate of the University of Central Florida, had been published in TIME, World Affairs, National Interest and the Christian Science Monitor. 

The last story he filed was on November 26, 2012 titled ‘Libya’s New Crisis’ 

Steve Sotloff lived in Yemen for years, spoke good Arabic, deeply loved the Islamic world..for this he is threatened with beheading,’ friend Anne Marloe tweeted on Tuesday, following the video’s release;.

In the video, Sotloff did not speak, and appeared with a shaved head and face.

‘Your strikes have caused casualties amongst Muslims. You are no longer fighting an insurgency.

‘We are an Islamic Army and a state that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims worldwide.

 ‘So effectively, any aggression toward the Islamic State is aggression towards Muslims from all walks of life who have accepted the Islamic Caliphate as their leadership.

‘So any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic Caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.’

At this point the executioner beheads Foley, who is kneeling bravely with hands tied behind his back. His body is displayed with the head atop the body.

Then in another chilling warning, the executioner holds another man, on his knees with his hands tied behind his back, by the scruff of the neck. A caption claims it is Steven Joel Soltoff.

The executioner says: ‘The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.’

GlobalPost’s co-founder, Charles Sennott told ABC News that there is ‘no reliable proof that this execution is authentic.

‘If the video is verified, it is just unfathomable darkness to think that a life as bright as Jim Foley’s ended that way,’ Sennott said. ‘He was an experienced and fearless journalist who believed deeply in reporting from the frontlines.’

The gruesome video clip opens with President Obama announcing the commencement of American air strikes on Iraq against ISIS.

‘Today I authorized two operations in Iraq: targeted airstrikes to protect our American personnel, and a humanitarian effort to help save thousands of Iraqi civilians who are trapped on a mountain without food and water, and facing almost certain death,’ says Obama in a statement dated, August 7.

ISIS, which has claimed control of most of northern Iraq and parts of Syria is threatening to kill Time journalist Steven Joel Sotloff next unless President Obama ceases attacks on the terror group.

 

Sotloff has been missing since the middle of 2013 and last tweeted on August 3rd, 2013 about his hometown basketball team the Miami Heat.

According to his Twitter account he was in Libya at the time of his disappearance.

Foley’s family, including parents John and Diane, of Rochester, New Hampshire, have publicly appealed for their son’s release over the past two years.

Foley was previously held captive by pro-Gaddafi forces in Libya.

The barbaric beheading comes one day after ISIS militants threatened to attack U.S. targets ‘in any place’ in a chilling video showing a blood-spattered American flag next to the jihadist flag with the message in English: ‘We will drown all of you in blood’.

Unlike Al Qaeda, the Islamic State has so far focused on seizing land in Iraq and Syria for its self-proclaimed caliphate, not spectacular attacks on Western targets.

It came as President Barack Obama on Monday announced that Kurdish peshmerga troops, supported by U.S. jets, had recaptured the strategically important Mosul Dam, hailing the offensive as a ‘major step forward’.

The dam had given the militants control over power and water supplies, and any breach of the vulnerable structure would have threatened thousands of lives.

As the U.S. military strikes the Islamic State group in Iraq, Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces also stepped up their own campaign against militant strongholds in Syria.

 

‘FRIENDLY, COURAGEOUS AND IMPATIENT’: REMEMBERING JAMES WRIGHT FOLEY

The friends of photojournalist James Foley are mourning his loss online, following the 40-year-old’s execution by ISIS terrorists.

Foley, from Rochester, New Hampshire, was a seasoned reporter who went missing two years ago while covering the Syrian conflict.

‘James Foley was a generous colleague & friend. We had beers in Antakya a week before he was taken. We talked about marriage/kids,’ Buzzfeed’s Middle East correspondent Sheera Frenkel tweeted.

Following a video posted online showing Foley’s graphic beheading, his former employer GlobalPost issued a statement.

‘On behalf of John and Diane Foley, and also GlobalPost, we deeply appreciate all of the messages of sympathy and support that have poured in since the news of Jim’s possible execution first broke,’ Philip Balboni, GlobalPost CEO and co-founder, said.

 

Mother Diane Foley talked about her son in a January 2013 interview with a local television station and said her son was ‘passionate about covering the story in Syria, passionate about the people there.’

He is the oldest of five children.

According to a bio on the website Free James Foley, the journalist had traveled extensively in the Middle East and North Africa on assignment and had covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

Prior to becoming a journalist, Foley helped ’empower disadvantaged individuals as a teacher and mentor, assisting them in improving their lives,’ the website says.

He had been previously held captive while covering the uprising in Libya, and was released by Gaddafi’s forces after six weeks.

Foley spoke about the 44 days of captivity in a video for the Boston Globe in May 2011.

‘You don’t want to be defined as that guy who got captured in 2011,’ he said. ‘I believe that front-line journalism is important.’

Journalist Clare Morgana Gillis was also held captive with Foley in Libya, and wrote a 2013 essay in which she said captivity was ‘the state most violently opposite [Foley’s] nature.’

She also described him as gentle, friendly, courageous and impatient with ‘anything that slows his forward momentum’.

A May article in Vanity Fair about the dangers for journalists in Syria described Foley as ‘affable’ and devil-may-care’. 

At the time of his disappearance, Foley was working as a freelancer for Agence France-Presse’s Global Post, but he previously contributed to Stars and Stripes and other outlets.  

Foley, who lived Boston, was previously held captive by pro-Gaddafi forces for six weeks in Libya in 2011.

He was released after 45 days following an international campaign by his friends and family.

The Foley family from Rochester, New Hampshire, had hoped keeping silent could aid his release from Syria, but early last year decided to appeal directly to his kidnappers, as they grew increasingly concerned.

‘We want Jim to come safely home, or at least we need to speak with him to know he’s okay,’ his father John Foley said in a statement in January 2013 as the Foley family launched a website to publicize his disappearance. ‘Jim is an objective journalist and we appeal for the release of Jim unharmed. To the people who have Jim, please contact us so we can work together toward his release.’

James, or Jim as he is known to his family and friends, is the oldest of five children to parents John and Diane Foley.

Foley, who studied at Marquette University, Milwaukee, and later studied journalism at Northwestern University, in hicago, has also reported on the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Prior to a career in journalism, he taught reading and writing skills to convicted felons at Cook County Jail in Chicago.

Another American journalist, Austin Tice, is also missing after disappearing somewhere outside Damascus, Syria in August 2012. 

His parents learned of Foley’s death as they were preparing a vigil to commemorate the two year anniversary of his kidnapping.

‘The last 635 days, we have had to share a horrible nightmare, which has made us close to the Foley family and our heart goes out to them. We pray eternal rest for James’ soul and comfort and peace for his family,’ the Tice family said in a statement.

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