James Foley knelt before a camera and read a speech presumably prepared for him that blamed the United States and President Obama for his death. He was dressed in an orange, prison-like garb while a dark figure wielding a knife stood next to him. After they both speak to the camera, the man in black began sawing at Foley’s neck. The camera went black then revealed Foley’s bloody head resting on top of his body.
Two weeks later, Steven Sotloff met the same fate. Both men were United States citizens and both men were journalists.
As a journalist, this is terrifying.
A journalist’s job is not to protect and serve, or put their life on the line for their country. A journalist’s job is to tell the truth. It’s not like Foley and Sotloff were accidentally killed in crossfire. They were kidnapped and strategically propped up and beheaded for the world to see.
I will not get into politics or theology because frankly I do not have the knowledge or authority to comment on either, but I know when innocent people are being killed, and that’s exactly what happened to Foley and Sotloff.
Any violence or injury brought upon a journalist is unjust. The beheadings of Foley and Sotloff may be the most shocking, but those weren’t the only ones.
On April 21, 2014, Simon Ostrovsky, a reporter for Vice, was taken into custody by Ukranian forces. For three days he was forced to sit in a filthy room with a soiled mattress. He said soldiers kicked and punched him the ribs as well as pounded his ears with open palms. Ostrovosky said soldiers would periodically threaten him saying they had machine guns pointed at his head and “they could easily kill me at any moment.”
What good comes from this type of violence? What is gained? Who profits? There’s no particular reason for senseless acts of brutality. Journalists don’t represent the country they’re native to. Their reporting doesn’t technically fuel any American plans in a governmental or military sense. Any violence toward journalists is solely for the purpose of spreading fear, and that’s exactly what ISIS is accomplishing.
At the end of each one of their execution videos, ISIS threatens to kill a new hostage, all of whom are either journalists or ambassadors for peace. After Sotloff was murdered, David Haines, a humanitarian, was set to be murdered next. Haines was killed Sept. 14. Proceeding Haines’s beheading, the dark figure who performed all the previous executions threatened to kill another British aid worker, Alan Henning.
However, it’s not just foreigners ISIS is terrorizing — it’s everybody who does not affiliate with the terrorist group. Dozens of videos have surfaced on the internet of ISIS soldiers murdering innocent citizens in Iraq. One video shows ISIS members driving down a highway, sticking AK-47s out their windows, and killing random people in cars as they pass. After the initial drive-by, the ISIS members approach the vehicles and begin pumping round after round into dead and dying bodies. The scenes are full of shattered glass, dented metal, and blood.
Later in that same video, the ISIS members perform another drive-by shooting, only this time the victim manages to escape his car. That doesn’t mean he’s safe though. He tries desperately to run away, but the ISIS members hunt him down in their car.
It’s not long before they catch up to the victim and shoot him down. And the worst part about this whole video: they made it all for fun.
All of these ISIS deaths have been pointless. ISIS has not gained any money or any resources, only the fear of innocent people.
Email Griffin Kelly at firstname.lastname@example.org.