MILWAUKEE (WITI/CNN) — A video released by ISIS shows the beheading of U.S. journalist and Marquette University alum James Foley and threatens the life of another American if President Barack Obama doesn’t end military operations in Iraq.
In the video posted Tuesday on YouTube, Foley is seen kneeling next to a man dressed in black. He reads a message, presumably scripted by his captors, that his “real killer” is America.
“I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope for freedom to see my family once again,” Foley can be heard saying in the video.
He is then shown being beheaded.
The National Security Council is aware of the video.
“The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available,” NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.
Foley was held captive in 2011 while reporting on the civil war in Libya. He lived to tell about it. In fact, he returned to the Marquette University campus to speak about his experience.
Foley returned to the Middle East to cover an uprising in Syria. On Thanksgiving Day 2012, he disappeared near the border with Turkey. He was reportedly forced into a vehicle by gunmen; he was not heard from again.
Once again, Marquette held a vigil for the family; one his parent attended.
“This is so very different, last time, within three weeks, we knew he was alive, where he was, who had him, we knew he was well,” said John Foley, James’ father.
“Because this one is much longer with such little information, it’s much more difficult,” said Diane Foley, James’ mother.
On Tuesday evening, the Facebook group set up to support Foley and his family, “Free James Foley,” posted a statement from Diane Foley. It read as follows:
We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.
We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.
We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.
Marquette University issued the following statement late Tuesday.
The Marquette community is deeply saddened by the death of alumnus and freelance journalist, James Foley, Arts ’96. We extend our heartfelt prayers and wishes for healing to James’ family and friends during this very difficult time.
James, who majored in history at Marquette, 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 – a measure of his character for which we could not be prouder.
Following his first capture in 2011, after he safely returned from Libya, James expressed in a letter to the Marquette community the power and strength he drew not only from his own prayer, but the prayers of his family and friends. As a community, we offer this prayer for peace.
The video also shows another American journalist. His life is said by the militants in the video to hang in the balance, depending on what Obama does next.
The journalist is believed to be Steven Sotloff, who was kidnapped at the Syria-Turkey border in 2013. Sotloff is a contributor to Time and Foreign Policy magazines.
As a freelancer, Foley picked up work for a number of major media outlets, including Agence France-Presse and GlobalPost.
“On behalf of John and Diane Foley, and also GlobalPost, we deeply appreciate all of the messages of sympathy and support that have poured in since the news of Jim’s possible execution first broke,” Philip Balboni, GlobalPost CEO and co-founder, said in a published statement.
“We have been informed that the FBI is in the process of evaluating the video posted by the Islamic State to determine if it is authentic. Until we have that determination, we will not be in a position to make any further statement. We ask for your prayers for Jim and his family.”
Foley had previously been taken captive in Libya. He was detained there in April 2011 along with three other reporters and released six weeks later.
Afterward, he said that what saddened him most was knowing that he was causing his family to worry.
Foley grew up in New Hampshire and graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2008. Like other young journalists who came of age after the September 11 terror attacks and American wars overseas, Foley was drawn to Iraq, Afghanistan and other areas of conflict.
Friends described Foley as fair, curious and impressively even-tempered.
“Everybody, everywhere, takes a liking to Jim as soon as they meet him,” journalist Clare Morgana Gillis wrote in a blog post about him in May 2013, six months after he disappeared in Syria.
“Men like him for his good humor and tendency to address everyone as ‘bro’ or ‘homie’ or ‘dude’ after the first handshake. Women like him for his broad smile, broad shoulders, and because, well, women just like him.”