James Foley was a much stronger journalist than I could ever hope to be. Foley went missing in Syria in 2012, and it appears that he remained stoic right through the last words he spoke on video just before his brutal beheading by an Islamic State terrorist thug.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), "Islamic State kidnaps, kills, and threatens journalists wherever it holds sway. Syria is the most dangerous country in the world for journalists, with at least 70 killed covering the conflict."
Amnesty International (AI) has called Foley's murder a war crime. "Those who carried out the killing and those who ordered it must face justice," said Margaret Huang, AIUSA's Deputy Executive Director of Campaigns and Programs.
"It is imperative that all warring countries and others with interests in the region use all diplomatic means possible to ensure that no more journalists - or others carrying out their legitimate work in the area -- are killed for doing their job," declared Said Boumedouha, AI's Deputy Director of Middle East and North Africa Program. "The militants also claim to be holding another U.S. journalist, Steven Sotloff, and state that his life depends on U.S. President Barack Obama's next move."
"The implication made in the video that journalists are being targeted in revenge for the U.S. government's involvement in Iraq is deeply alarming and increases fears that other hostages may be at heightened risk," Boumedouha continued. "Journalists, like all civilians, are bystanders in armed conflict and must be protected from harm rather than singled out for brutal killings."
Human Rights Watch (HRW) agrees, stating that "[g]roups detaining journalists should immediately and unconditionally release them."
"James went to Syria because of his commitment to exposing the horrors civilians faced since the uprising against the government there," said Peter Bouckaert, HRW's Emergencies Director and a personal friend of Foley's. "He, like the other journalists who are now held prisoner in Syria, courageously risked his life so that the world might know the truth and act to ease the suffering of the Syrian people."
Bouckaert continued: "I wish there was no video showing his brutal execution to haunt his family and friends forever. It is unbearable to think of Jim's final terror-filled moments, designed by the Islamic State to horrify us all. It is unbearable to think that there are still other hostages in the hands of the Islamic State, hostages kept for the same purpose. It is unbearable to think of the hundreds of mostly nameless Iraqis and Syrians who have suffered the same fate as Jim at the hands of the Islamic State, but Jim would want us to think of them."
"Goodbye, dear Jim," said Bouckaert. "We will remember you for the beauty of your life well lived and not its brutal end."