James Foley (journalist)

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James Wright Foley (born October 18, 1973 in Evanston , Illinois , † August 2014 ) was an American journalist . He was kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and beheaded by a member of the Islamic State terrorist organization in August 2014 .


James Foley was from Rochester, New Hampshire, and grew up as the oldest of five siblings. He graduated from Marquette University in 1996. Foley first studied history and creative writing . He worked as a teacher before turning to journalism. Until 2008 he studied at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism .

Foley reported from the front as an embedded journalist with the US troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Most recently he worked as a war reporter for the French news agency AFP and for the Boston news site GlobalPost , which deals in particular with reporting from the Middle East. He also worked on the award-winning documentary E-Team by directors Ross Kauffman and Kate Chevigny , and accompanied human rights activists from Human Rights Watch in their work in crisis areas.

In 2011 he was arrested for six weeks during the Libyan civil war because troops from Muammar al-Gaddafi believed him to be a spy. Two other journalists were captured at the same time as he was, the American Claire Gillis and the Spaniard Manu Brabo. During the arrest, the soldiers shot the South African - Austrian photo journalist Anton Hammerl. Foley organized an auction at Christie's in London , the proceeds of which went to the widow and children of Hammerl. When Muammar al-Gaddafi was overthrown in August 2011, Foley was already working in Libya again. Together with Globalpost correspondent Tracey Shelton, he was at the scene of Gaddafi's capture and killing in October 2011.

James Foley last filmed the doctors' work at Al-Shifa Hospital and organized a fundraising campaign for a new ambulance. On November 22, 2012, Foley was kidnapped from a taxi with his translator and British correspondent John Cantlie after visiting an internet café on the way back to the Turkish border in a contested area near the Syrian city of Binesh . The translator and driver were released and Foley was gone for almost two years.


On the night of August 19, 2014, a five-minute film was posted on YouTube allegedly showing Foley's beheading by a member of the Islamic State terrorist militia . At the beginning of the video, Foley urged the Americans to stop bombing IS targets. Foley wore an orange suit like a Guantanamo prisoner . His final words were addressed to the US government, who was his "real killer," and to his brother John, who should reconsider the implications of his job as a US Air Force bomber pilot . Subsequently, a masked person, who also appeared in later videos and was nicknamed Jihadi John by the British press , began beheading Foley. The act itself could not be seen, only the decapitated body of Foley. A second kidnapped journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff , was then brought before and threatened with killing (a video showing the beginning of Sotloff's alleged beheading appeared on September 2, 2014) if the United States did not stop its air strikes.

British forensic scientists doubted that the video from August 2014 actually showed Foley's killing, but assumed that he was murdered shortly afterwards. Jeff Smith of the National Center for Media Forensics in Denver was of the opinion that the videos of Foley and Sutloff were "posed", but the pictures of the decapitated corpses were real.


The former head of the US secret service CIA , Michael Morell , spoke of the "first IS terrorist attack on the USA". The British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond spoke of the video of "absolute horror". The French President François Hollande proposed an international conference to combat extremists, the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called on all countries in the region, including Iran, to act together against the IS fighters.

The Pentagon admitted a failed rescue attempt on August 21. Special forces are said to have tried to free Foley and several other kidnapped Americans in ar-Raqqa . Air and ground units were involved in the operation. Since the hostages had apparently been moved recently, they could not be found. Instead, several dozen soldiers from a special unit got into a firefight with IS fighters, killing several IS fighters, but not Americans. Foley's kidnappers had previously requested a ransom of 100 million euros for his release, which the US government was unwilling to pay. About a week before the video was released, the kidnappers emailed Foley's family to inform them of the impending murder. According to the mother, the family had been "warned of legal action" by the US government should the family attempt to raise ransom money for their son.

Posthumous honors

On October 23, 2014, James Foley was posthumously presented with the Oxi Day Award . Foley had been nominated by former US President Bill Clinton , who also gave the introductory speech before the award was presented to Foley's parents. The song The Empty Chair by the duo J. Ralph and Sting from the documentary Jim: The James Foley Story was nominated for the Academy Award in 2017 . The documentary by documentary filmmaker Brian Oakes traces the life and death of Foley.

See also

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. James Wright Foley ( July 19, 2014 memento in the Internet Archive ) at fbi.gov, accessed August 20, 2014
  2. ^ Daniel Arkin: James Wright Foley, Kidnapped Journalist, Apparently Executed by ISIS. In: NBC News, August 19, 2014 (accessed August 21, 2014).
  3. Executioner 'with a British accent' beheads US journalist in the name of ISIS at dailymail.co.uk, accessed August 20, 2014
  4. US government confirms the authenticity of the beheading video , Spiegel Online , August 20, 2014.
  5. a b c USA confirm the authenticity of the video ( memento from August 20, 2014 in the Internet Archive ) at tagesschau.de, accessed on August 20, 2014
  6. Islamic militants execute journalist, MU grad James Foley at jsonline.com, accessed August 20, 2014
  7. Video shows ISIS beheading US journalist James Foley. at cnn.com, accessed August 20, 2014.
  8. ^ "E-Team": James Foley's Last Film
  9. Foley beheading video followed prior threat GlobalPost, Aug. 19, 2014.
  10. Manuel Swoboda, Fight against "cancerous ulcer" . In: Kleine Zeitung , August 21, 2014, p. 3.
  11. Foley beheading video Followed prior threat Global Post, August 19, 2014.
  12. FBI ( Memento from July 19, 2014 in the Internet Archive )
  13. Who Was James Foley? stern.de, August 20, 2014.
  14. ^ "Islamic State" claims to have beheaded US journalists at dw.de, accessed on August 20, 2014.
  15. Foley murder video 'may have been staged'. In: The Daily Telegraph . August 25, 2014.
  16. ^ Media Forensics Experts Analyzing ISIS Video In Denver. CBS Denver, September 3, 2014.
  17. ^ Federal government ready to provide arms aid for Kurds in Iraq Augsburger Allgemeine, August 20, 2014
  18. US government admits failed rescue attempt. In: Zeit Online , accessed on August 21, 2014.
  19. Before Killing James Foley, ISIS Demanded Ransom From US nytimes.com, August 20, 2014
  20. Parents publish the last email from the IS murderers. In: Der Spiegel Online, August 22, 2014.
  21. The e-mail to the parents in the original English In: GlobalPost. August 21, 2014, loaded August 22, 2014.
  22. Killed journalist: Foley's parents are said to have been put under pressure by the US government. In: Der Spiegel Online, September 13, 2014.
  23. Journalist Executed by ISIS To Be Honored With 2014 Oxi Day Award. In: The Washington Oxi Day Foundation. October 8, 2014, accessed May 2, 2017 .
  24. Melinda Newman: Sting Hopes to 'Shine More Light' on 'Jim: The James Foley Story' Documentary With Oscar Nomination. In: Billboard. January 24, 2017, accessed January 25, 2017 .
  25. Julia Felsenthal: Slain Journalist James Foley Is Remembered in a Celebrated New Sundance Documentary. In: Vogue . February 4, 2016, accessed January 25, 2017 .