On August 19, 2014, the Al-Qaeda splinter group Islamic State posted a graphic video online that purported to show the execution of U.S. journalist James Foley. The next day, U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that the video was authentic.
Islamic State claimed to have executed Foley in retribution for U.S. military intervention in Iraq. In August, the U.S. had launched air strikes in Iraq in an attempt to prevent militants from taking control of key areas, reports said.
Foley’s last known whereabouts were in Syria, where he was kidnapped in November 2012, but it is unknown where he was killed. The journalist, who had contributed to Global Post and Agence France-Presse, was traveling in Idlib province in northwest Syria toward the border with Turkey when his car was intercepted, Global Post reported, citing the account of a witness interviewed by a Turkish journalist. Two armed assailants forced Foley out of his vehicle, according to the report.
At the request of Foley’s family, his disappearance was not made public until January 2013, when his family launched a campaign seeking his release. At the time of his abduction, no group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping. In May 2013, Global Post and Foley’s family said they believed he may possibly have been held in a prison by Syrian authorities. A May 2014 article in Vanity Fair magazine disputed the theory based on his location at the time of his abduction, and suggested he was being held by one of the radical Islamic militant rebel groups in Syria.
Foley had reported from conflict areas in the past. In 2011, he and two other journalists were held captive for more than 40 days in Libya by forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi. A fourth journalist who was traveling with them, Anton Hammerl, was shot and killed by Libyan forces when the group was seized. Foley later helped organize an auction to raise funds for Hammerl’s three young children.
President Barack Obama condemned Foley’s killing in a public address on August 20, 2014, as an “act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world.”