Freelance photojournalist James Foley, who had been missing since he was kidnapped nearly two years ago while leaving an Internet café in northern Syria, was beheaded by terrorists who posted a video online Aug. 19, 2014, allegedly showing his execution.
Militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, claimed responsibility for the 40-year-old photographer’s brutal murder, saying his execution was in retaliation for the recent U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. ISIS also threatened to kill American journalist Steven Sotloff, who was also held with Foley.
“The Newseum extends its deepest sympathies to the family of James Foley,” said Jim Duff, president and chief executive officer of the Newseum. “James died while exercising a freedom that many of us in the United States take for granted. His tragic death should serve as a reminder of the importance of our fundamental freedoms here and of the risks that journalists around the world take every day to find and report the truth.”
Foley’s mother, Diane, issued a message on Facebook about her son.
“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.”
Foley’s execution is reminiscent of the shocking death in 2002 of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The 38-year-old journalist was on his way to an interview in Karachi, Pakistan, when he was kidnapped and killed by terrorists belonging to a group called the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty. Pearl’s beheading was also videotaped. His story is highlighted in the Newseum’s Time Warner World News Gallery.
Syria has been the most dangerous country in the world for journalists for the past two years, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. At least 69 other journalists have been killed covering the country’s deadly civil war, and more than 80 journalists have been kidnapped.