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Pentagon: US Special Forces Tried to Rescue Journalist Who Was Beheaded

Obama Condemns Journalist Killing, Vows Justicei
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Luis Ramirez
August 20, 2014 11:23 PM
President Barack Obama has condemned the killing of American journalist James Foley and warned the United States will see that justice is done. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Related video report by Luis Ramirez
Luis Ramirez

U.S. military forces unsuccessfully tried to rescue a number of American hostages being held in Syria by Islamic extremists, the U.S. Defense Department said Wednesday. News reports said those hostages included the freelance journalist James Foley, whose beheading was shown in a video released Tuesday.

The Pentagon gave few details of the operation, declining to say when and where specifically in Syria it took place, or how many U.S. forces were involved.

The Washington Post, The Associated Press and other media said the operation took place earlier this summer.

“The United States attempted a rescue operation recently to free a number of American hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). This operation involved air and ground components and was focused on a particular captor network within ISIL,” the statement said. "Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location."

White House officials told The New York Times that Special Forces commandos exchanged fire with militants, and one American was slightly wounded when one of the U.S. aircraft came under fire.

The grisly beheading of James Foley, a freelance journalist who had been held captive since disappearing in Syria in 2012, prompted wide outrage, including condemnation from President Barack Obama who called the Islamic State militant group that took credit for the execution a spreading "cancer" that must be eradicated.

"The entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of James Foley," Obama said earlier Wednesday. The United States "will continue to do what we must do to protect our people."

U.S. intelligence officials on Wednesday confirmed the authenticity of the video, which was released Tuesday and shows Foley being put to death. It also showed a second American journalist being held hostage, Steven Joel Sotloff, and included militants' threats to kill him. 

President Obama commenting on the beheading of American journalist James Foley.President Obama commenting on the beheading of American journalist James Foley.
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President Obama commenting on the beheading of American journalist James Foley.
President Obama commenting on the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

The Sunni extremist group claimed it had killed Foley in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes targeting the group’s fighters in northern Iraq. The strikes, which began Aug. 8, helped rescue thousands of Yazidi refugees trapped on Mount Sinjar and helped Iraqis regain control of the country's main dam, near Mosul. In the hours after the video's release, the U.S. said it carried out nearly a dozen more airstrikes near the dam.

The 40-year-old Foley disappeared November 22, 2012, after being abducted in Syria by unidentified gunmen. He had reported in the Middle East for five years, for organizations including GlobalPost, and previously had spent six weeks in captivity in Libya.

Watch related video report by Henry Ridgwell:

Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outragei
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Henry Ridgwell
August 20, 2014 7:41 PM
U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.

 

It was not immediately clear where or when the execution took place.

Obama, in a brief televised appearance from the Massachusetts island of Martha's Vineyard, said he had telephoned Foley's family members in New Hampshire to say "we are all heartbroken at their loss."

The Islamic State militants, Obama said, "have rampaged" across swaths of Syria and Iraq.

"They abduct women and children and subject them to rape and torture and slavery,” he said.

'Extract This Cancer'

Obama also said the fighters had murdered people of all faiths, including Muslims. He called for a common effort – in Iraq, the Middle East region and elsewhere – "to extract this cancer so it does not spread."

French President Francois Hollande told Le Monde newspaper there should be a "global strategy" to counter the Islamic group, which he called well-structured, well-financed and well-armed with sophisticated weapons.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the killing as "an abominable crime."

Foley's killing has also drawn a sharp response in Britain, where counterterrorism police were trying to identify the journalist's killer. In the video, he spoke with a British accent.

Family Pays Tribute

The Foley family implored the kidnappers to spare the lives of other hostages, including Sotloff: "Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.''

Foley “gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people," said a Facebook statement attributed to his mother Diane Tuesday.

The Islamic State holds more hostages, including three American nationals and at least two British nationals, as well as others, according to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization at King’s College, in London. 

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said the U.S. is aware of other Americans being held in Syria and that an estimated 12,000 foreign fighters have joined the conflicts in Iraq and Syria.

'Message to America'

In the video, titled "Message to America," Foley is shown wearing an orange, prison-style jumpsuit and kneeling in the desert as a masked man in black standing beside him holds a knife. The video was initially posted to YouTube, before being taken down late Tuesday by the video-sharing service.

“My message to my beloved parents: Save me some dignity and don’t accept any meager compensation for my death from the same people who effectively hit the last nail in my coffin with their recent aerial campaign in Iraq," he says.

The masked man denounces the U.S. government, saying it is "at the forefront of aggression toward the Islamic State" and he accuses the United States of interfering in its affairs.

"Today, your military air force is attacking us daily. In Iraq, your strikes have caused casualties amongst Muslims," the man says. "You are no longer fighting an insurgency. We are an Islamic army and state that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims from all walks of life, who have accepted the caliphate as their leadership."

The video then shows the man beginning to cut Foley’s neck before fading away and then finally showing Foley’s headless body.

Sotloff appears near the end of the nearly five-minute video. The man suggests that his fate rests with Obama.

More reaction on Foley

"This is an absolutely tragic and senseless killing of an innocent man who was just doing his job," Voice of America Director David Ensor said. "It isn't going to make any difference. It won't affect U.S. policy, in my view, it isn't going to make American journalist organizations stop covering the news."

IS and anyone else who is holding innocent prisoners – journalists or others – should free them immediately, Ensor said. "They will gain nothing from taking another innocent life.”

VOA constantly assesses the risks its journalists face while covering different news stories, he said.

"We have a lot of respect for our journalists and their judgment," he said. Risks are inevitable and "unfortunately, the world is a dangerous place."

Marquette University, where Foley graduated in 1996, said Foley "had a heart for social justice and used his immense talents to tell the difficult stories in the hopes that they might make a difference in the world."

Foley, who had also been held in Libya by forces loyal to Col. Moammar Gadhafi during the 2011 uprising, had worked for Agence France-Presse and the Boston-based media outlet GlobalPost. His last dispatch from Syria, in October 2012, for GlobalPost detailed the growing frustration with the war among Aleppo’s population.

Jonathan Adelman, associate professor at the University of Denver's Korbel School of International Studies, said the execution was a response by IS to its recent battlefield setbacks.

"To say that ‘OK, we’re not even going to concede that we can ever lose because we’re, quote, infallible, but we’re now going to go to the heart of the beast, we’re going to go straight at the president of the United States and say do you want us to slaughter this person?’” he said. “And, it is incredibly appalling in the 21st century that any nation, any people, would act like this.”

Syria: Most Dangerous Places in the World For Journalists

Syria is one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters, according to the U.S.-based Committee to Protect Journalists: at least 69 have been killed, more than 80 kidnapped and 20 others currently missing. About 20 journalists still are missing in Syria, and many are believed to be held by militants, according to the organization.

"Syria is "an incredibly important conflict that they are literally risking their lives for," CPJ advocacy director Courtney Radsch told VOA.

"Anytime that non-state actors are kidnapping journalists and using them as pawns in a broader geopolitical game, that's incredibly dangerous," Radsch said. "Journalists are there as innocent, objective bystanders. They are seeking to report on what's happening so that the world can know.”

Freelance journalists covering conflicts like that in Syria often work with little protection or resources. Radsch said news organization should make sure their journalists are safe, whether they are staff or freelancers

"I think it's important that news organizations are paying the right wage so that we encourage freelancers to do the training, to get the security, take the precautions that are needed,” she said.

Shiraz Maher, at the King's College center, said foreign and British jihadists in particular fighting for the Islamic State have been responsible for some of the worst atrocities.

"Earlier this year, British foreign fighters were involved with the execution of prisoners of war, members of the Syrian army that they had captured. At the end of last year, we had British suicide bombers in Aleppo,” Maher said.
VOA's Henry Ridgwell contributed to this report from London, with Victor Beattie, Sharon Behn and Mike Eckel from Washington. Additional information was provided by Reuters.

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by: Shantkuma from: india
August 20, 2014 2:17 PM
US,Uk,Europe,china,germany and other nations should join and finishoff these evil forces.

by: Bee Farms
August 20, 2014 2:09 PM
THESE MONSTERS should NEVER be in any power to run the world. And, the whole *civilized world * CLEARLY SEES THE TRUE FACE of ISIS for what it is. PERVERSE INSANE AND CRUEL BEYOND ALL WORDS --
The good people of the World must never give up to these savages . Don't give up ---good people of the World, never give up --to pure evil -
(that's the point imo)

by: Bee Farms
August 20, 2014 2:06 PM
sadistic cowards.

by: JohnTurnbull from: UK
August 20, 2014 1:43 PM
That was not the voice of a man about to die.
ISIS would not have faded out the killing.
Most likely filmed in Arizona by the CIA
In Response

by: Tom Murphy from: Heartland America
August 20, 2014 8:39 PM
Your words come from the mind of a paranoid conspiracy addict.

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
August 20, 2014 11:41 AM
I do not know how this seems in the eyes of the UN Human rights group, the Arab League especially the Saudi Arabian foreign ministry, the EU and other agencies. Does it look like something to behold? I am surprised that there is no public outcry or threat of isolation coming from the EU and its member states that would scream ‘foul’ if Israel tried to reclaim what rightfully belonged to it. ISIS is sponsored by countries, and sometimes even the US knows those countries and yet continues to fraternize with them in the name of trade and economics. That is playing double standard. ISIS is not funded from the astral world, it is not equipped from the outer space. There are satellites all over the places and yet no one is telling us where ISIS is getting its supplies. It's a shame!

Will this now make the US rethink its stand concerning boot on the ground? Will it spur France calling for meeting on the Iraqi solutions to try to raise an army to go confront the insurgents? Will there be sanctions on Turkey and Qatar, the two most notable and probable sponsors of ISIS operations in the region until the stop their covert funding and supplies to the terrorists? Much more action is needed right now. It goes beyond the rhetoric; but to equip another islamist group which will later turn the weapons against civilization should be out of the question. If it is not the devil let loose on the earth, then the earth people should find urgent solution to the trouble and menace of ISIS by finding out and sanctioning its sponsors.

I pity Americans who embrace these islamists in the name of a free world, civilization and freedoms. They all have this same fate awaiting them if they fall into the hands of the mindless animals, the brutes they tend to be defending. It’s a fact that no matter what you do to them, unless you convert and become their slaves, you’re their enemy even if they ignore you for a while to achieve what they’re looking for. It’s just as well that Britain is in the forefront of misleading adventures in the Middle East, most of which have placed Israel at various levels of disadvantage, including leading the course of isolation if Israel continued to seek to have its land confiscated by the Arabs before the 1948 wars. So it’s not surprising that the man leading terror against civilization could be British, and that’s a tip of the iceberg.

by: Frankie Fook-lun Leung from: Los Angeles
August 20, 2014 11:08 AM
Many of these western journalists are free-lancers. They are not protected with the knowledge and corporate umbrella of major media outlets. They are extremely vulnerable in war zones. The Committee to Protect journalists in New York City keep track of the risks of journalists world-wide.

by: meanbill from: USA
August 20, 2014 11:03 AM
"The Caliphate of all Islam" and the Caliph al-Baghdadi, live by the strict interpretation of the Koran and Islamic Law from Muhammad's time, and he has appointed (Qadis) judges, (who's only qualifications are, they be free, sane, adult, trustworthy, and a Muslim), to mete out Islamic Justice in captured cities, towns, and on the battlefields, and the decision by the (Qadi) is finale and irrevocable.... as long as they do not disobey the laws of Allah...

According to Islamic Law under Muhammad.. (Concerning prisoners of war).. The decision is left to the Muslim (Qadi);.. He has the choice either to kill the male prisoners or exchange them for Muslim captives, or (if not a Muslim), to ENSLAVE them.. This is in regard to men, but women and children are not permitted to be killed, but must be exchanged (to redeem Muslim captives), or ENSLAVED.. "Take them as SLAVES, concubines, or maids.".... Muhammad and the Caliphs had hundreds and thousands of SLAVES captured in war.... (al-Baghdadi Sunni Muslim fighters enjoy the same benefits as those who fought with Muhammad in his wars).... and the captured enemy fighters and families suffer the same fate today, as those enemy tribes suffered under Muhammad's conquest.... then?

by: Tom Murphy from: Heartland America
August 20, 2014 10:41 AM
ISIS needs to be carpet-bombed at every opportunity when a target appears. Cluster bombs, napalm and daisy cutters were invented for vermin like them. They want martyrdom and we should fulfill their wishes in this respect.
In Response

by: meanbill from: USA
August 20, 2014 10:48 PM
Hey Tom... We did that in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia for (16) years, and we still lost those war, didn't we?.... We dropped more bombs on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, than we used in all of WW2, except the atom bombs of course.... and it's been proven, we can't win a war with boots on the ground, can we?.... BUT we can do like the Israeli's do, and kill all their civilian men, women, children and babies, can't we?

by: Dr. McAlgun from: USA
August 20, 2014 10:31 AM
This would have never happened if the CIA would NOT FUND AL QAEDA AND ISIS. ITS A FACT THAT THE ROGUE CIA FUNDS THEM, AND THE CIA SHOULD BE BROUGHT UP ON CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY. STOP FUNDING AL QAEDA AND ISIS, SCUMBAG CIA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
In Response

by: Tom Murphy from: Heartland America
August 20, 2014 8:43 PM
More paranoid insanity.

by: Bee Farms
August 20, 2014 10:29 AM
These SADISTIC COWARDLY MONSTERS have shown the whole world with no doubt remaining
their TRUE FACE ==== this is ISIS ======
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