'A martyr for freedom'

Photojournalist's beheading horrifying, but empowering for free world

Photojournalist James Foley pointed his camera at evil to show the free world the terror and suffering spread by Islamist radicals.

This week, evil pointed a camera back at him.

But if the barbarians who call themselves the Islamic State thought beheading the 40-year-old freelancer in northwest Syria would make the West cower and recoil, they thought wrong.

On the contrary, the disgusting and widely broadcast atrocity is bound to strengthen the resolve of free people to rid the world of this brutal regime that has slaughtered thousands of Christians and other religious minorities.

President Obama, who has sent in ground forces and ordered air strikes, on Wednesday said the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL, is a “cancer” that must be stopped.

“Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers. Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages, killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence,” the president said during a brief news conference at Martha’s Vineyard.

The international police agency Interpol said Thursday it wants a globally coordinated push to stem the tide of international fighters joining the Islamic State group that has swallowed up territory across Iraq and Syria.

European nations, home to thousands of Islamist radicals living among its 20-plus-million Muslim residents, are waking up to the threat of the group that has claimed large chunks of the northern part of the Mideast.

“It’s not simply a terrorist group like those, alas, we have already known – dispersed, scattered, with several chiefs. This is a terrorist enterprise that has decided to enslave, annihilate, destroy,” French President Francois Hollande said Thursday.

Britain has ordered Royal Air Force reconnaissance patrols in Iraq and has indicated willingness to arm Kurdish troops fighting the Sunni insurgents.

Germany, too, has said it will arm the Kurds. Though it had been considering the aid for weeks, it was the Foley video that played a role in the final decision because it “shows the barbaric and completely merciless murder of a human being,” government spokesman Steffen Seibert told reporters in Berlin.

Foley, who went missing in Syria on Thanksgiving Day 2012, fearlessly documented the suffering and terror while reporting from countries such as Libya and Afghanistan. The teacher-turned-photojournalist was one of two reporters kidnapped and held for 44 days by Moammar Gadhafi’s loyalists during the 2011 Libyan civil war.

Like many of those oppressed and murdered by the Islamic State, Foley was a Christian. In interviews after that release, the devout Catholic said he turned to his faith to maintain hope, often reciting the rosary by touching his knuckles to keep track of the sets of prayers.

Foley’s parents, speaking to reporters in front of their New Hampshire home, said their son was motivated to return to Syria to document the conflict there and the suffering of ordinary Syrians.

“He was not crazy. He was
motivated by doing the right thing,” John Foley said. “We believe he was a martyr for freedom.”

Without realizing it, radical Islam may have given the free world a new rallying point.

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