Journalist James Foley Executed by Islamic Extremist Group

Video of the New Hampshire native's beheading was sent as a message to the U.S. to stop airstrikes in Iraq.

Photo via Associated Press

Photo via Associated Press

A freelance journalist from New Hampshire who wrote for a Boston-based news organization was executed in a heinous video posted online by Islamic militants this week in what the terrorists called a “warning” to the United States to cease continued airstrikes in parts of northern Iraq.

James Wright Foley, who went missing in Syria when he was kidnapped in 2012, was purportedly murdered by members of the extremist group the Islamic State, top U.S. officials confirmed to the Associated Press, after reviewing the footage of his death. The video was shared widely on various international websites and YouTube. The footage, which did not have a timestamp, has since been removed.

According to a White House report, President Barack Obama was briefed on the video that surfaced more than 600 days after Foley disappeared. The president, who is on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard amid turmoil in northern Iraq, is expected to address Foley’s death during a press conference Wednesday.

Foley, a videographer and writer who extensively covered the conflict in Syria, worked for GlobalPost, which has headquarters in Boston. Late Tuesday night, as reports circulated that it was Foley who was executed in the grisly video shared by extremist forces warning America and Obama to put an end to the targeted airstrikes, the company’s CEO, Philip Balboni, said the company is hoping it was not Foley who appeared in the video, and that they’re still awaiting definitive confirmation from U.S. officials.

“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. 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,” Balboni said.

GlobalPost reported Tuesday night that they had launched an international investigation with the help of a private firm to locate Foley when he went missing, and withheld information about his possible location at the request of both his family and U.S. officials. The news agency said it was fairly certain of Foley was being held against his will in Syria by a terrorist organization.

After National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden issued a statement Tuesday saying the intelligence community was working on authenticating the video, Foley’s mother, Diane, issued a statement on behalf of the family, urging the Islamic State to free other journalists being held captive, while also highlighting her son’s great accomplishments during his time reporting in Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan.

“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,” Foley’s mother said in a statement posted to the “Free James Foley” Facebook group. “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.”

When Foley first when missing two years ago, the website and Facebook page were set up by supporters to keep people updated on his possible whereabouts. A tally kept track of how many days Foley had been missing, finally reaching more than 600 days before he appeared on the video Tuesday. The website has since been taken down.