Center for Strategic Communication


The Islamic State beheaded an American reporter who was captured in Syria in 2012, and threatened to kill another if the US military does not halt its air campaign against the jihadist group in northern Iraq.

Today the Islamic State posted a video of the beheading of James Wright Foley, a journalist who was captured by the group in Binesh, Syria on Nov. 22, 2012. The English-language video, which is titled “A Message to America,” was released by the Al Furqan Media Foundation, a media arm of the Islamic State, and obtained by the SITE Intelligence Group.

The video begins with a clip of President Barack Obama explaining the reasoning for the US military’s re-engagement in Iraq. Then, the video cuts to Foley, whose hands are cuffed behind his back and is wearing an orange jumpsuit, and an Islamic State fighter dressed in black.

Foley blames the United State for his death because it launched airstrikes against the Islamic State, and urges his brother, who is in the US Air Force, to quit the military.

“I guess all in all, I wish I wasn’t an American,” Foley says just before the Islamic State fighter brandishes a knife and begins to saw off his head.

The video then shows Foley’s body on the ground, with his head placed on top of it.

Before he beheads Foley, the Islamic State executioner says, in non-native English with a British accent, that the American journalist is to be killed because the US attacked Muslims in Iraq. The Islamic State fighter also says that the US is now fighting “an Islamic Army.”

“You’re 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 towards the Islamic State is an aggression towards Muslims from all walks of life who have accepted the Islamic Caliphate as their leadership,” he says.

“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.”

After beheading Foley and displaying his mutilated corpse, the Islamic State fighter then appears with Steven Joel Sotloff, another American journalist who was captured in Syria on Aug. 4, 2013.

“The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision,” the Islamic State fighter says as he grasps the collar of the orange jumpsuit worn by a terrified Sotloff.

The Islamic State is clearly seeking to deter the United States from conducting further airstrikes in Iraq. The US began airstrikes against the Islamic State on Aug. 7 after President Obama directed the military to halt the Islamic State’s advance on Irbil, the Kurdish capital, and support humanitarian operations to the Yazidi minority trapped on Mount Sinjar. US military operations were expanded on Aug. 15 by Obama to support a Kurdish offensive to retake the Mosul Dam and surrounding villages. The US military has destroyed numerous Islamic State armored personnel carriers, armored vehicles, artillery pieces, technicals and pickup trucks, and fixed fighting positions in the airstrikes.