James Foley was a dedicated American journalist who often risked his life for the sake of reporting, putting himself in the midst of dangerous conflicts to raise awareness of serious humanitarian crises that plague the global community. In 2012, while investigating a story on the rising turmoil in Syria, Foley was captured for the second time in his career as a front-line journalist. News of his disappearance reached the mainstream media in 2013 when his family created a media campaign pleading for his release. However, all hope for Foley’s return immediately came to a halt on August 19, 2014, when the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, more commonly known as ISIS, released a video graphically depicting a murder that confirmed the fears of his family and the American public.
Originally posted to YouTube, but later shared on many other social media platforms, the video was titled “A Message to America” and started with a clip of former President Obama discussing his plan to launch airstrikes against forces belonging to ISIS. A masked militant dressed in all black then appeared next to Foley, who was positioned on his knees in an orange jumpsuit. After Foley was given a chance to say some final words, the terrorist gruesomely beheaded him. There is no doubt that the purpose of this video was to influence American foreign policy as the masked murderer warned the Obama Administration that its continued military presence in Syria “will result in the bloodshed of [the American] people.” However, many of those who are familiar with the organization believe that ISIS had another objective in mind to establish itself as a leader in the global jihadist movement in order to earn support and respect from other terrorist groups and sympathizers around the world. YouTube removed the video within hours, but terrorists continue to use social media as a means to forcibly insert themselves into the mainstream news.