Essay on the Chronology of a Terrorist Attack

Published: 2021/11/22
Number of words: 1255

Overview of the Incident

On September 22nd, 2012, the ISIS kidnapped an American journalist by the name, James Foley and later murdered him in the year 2014. The Islamic State killed Foley for what it terms as retaliation to airstrikes made against their troops during the Syrian war (Friis, 2015). A video was released by the militant groups beheading the photojournalist, in what seemed to be an attack on Americans. Obama had ordered missile attacks on the militia to protect American soldiers on the land and some parts of Iraq. The Syrians had taken over a substantial portion of Iran, which erupted in a war. James was a war Journalist during the Syria-Iraq war and was kidnapped in the year 2012. He and several others are held captive b the militia group for over 18 months. Most of the captives are forced to convert to Islam for better treatment.

The militia group asks for a ransom from each individual that was held captive. A total of 16 people from different countries had their governments negotiating for their release. Policy for Britons does not allow them to pay ransoms for kidnapped citizens. The policy was implemented to protect their citizens worldwide and make them less attractive for kidnapping. In August 2014, the strikes on the Syrian troops marked the climax for the militia to execute James Foley, an American Journalist openly. He, alongside are beheaded by a masked man with a British accent. In his last words, Foley blames his murder on the criminality of the American government. The news were received sadly throughout the world in what seemed to be a terrorist attack on the United States.

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Pre-Incident Indicators

The fact the Islamic State militia held the prisoners for some days makes it clear that the United States government had the chance to rescue their own. James Foley was the first American to be beheaded during the Syrian war. The terrorists had taken a live video of the process, allowing James to give his last remarks. The video elicited mixed reactions among Americans, which led the government to condemn the move by the Islamic State militia. In an earlier statement, the group had threatened to kill Americans anywhere as a sign of their retaliation. In his days under captivity, James had resolved to convert in a bid to save his life and receive better treatment from the ISIS militia. The incident declared war prompting the United States government to release a statement admitting to being appalled by the murder of James Foley (Mohammed, Sosteric, Hathaway, Hutchcraft & Brasted, 2014).

The idea that the government of the United States does not negotiate on ransom matters for their citizens complicated the matter. Sixteen captives from other nations had been released upon successful government-caliphate negotiations (Hubbard & Schmitt, 2014). To the militia, Britons and Americans are not any better, and they should have paid their ransom just like the rest of the nations. The time from his capture to his murder is enough for the government to attempt and rescue the captives. It took almost two years of attempts by the American government to save the prisoners, an idea that never materialized. It indicates that the government had a chance to rescue captives, but policies in place acted as a constraint. Paying ransom for their citizens makes countrymen attractive for kidnapping all over the world (Callimachi, 2014). In essence, the war between the Islamic State and American troops should have served as an indicator that Americans might be attacked. The United States government had prior knowledge of the impending beheading of their citizen.

The Motivation behind the Attack

The motive that drove the ISIS to kill James Foley in the year 2014 is based on the ideology of retaliation. The Islamic State claims to be fighting for the rights of Muslims who are abused on several fronts globally. The airstrikes organized by the US president on Syrian troops escalated the animosity. The Islamic State is the most extreme organization related to Al-Qaeda that has ever emerged in the Syrian war (Styszynski, 2014). The group appeared to be against armies backed by Americans and Assad. In essence, the group was formed to fight against Americans and those who opposed them in the Syrian war.

Besides the motive of hurting America, ISIS murdered James Foley openly to warn Americans of the ability they have in controlling the region. It is more of a supremacy battle in the region that has seen the caliphate group spread in Eastern parts of Syria to Iraq. The group has numerous members from different countries all over the world, including the United States. Areas under the group’s control have experienced beheadings, crucifixions, and violations of human rights. The group’s motive is to ensure that Americans suffer, and in return, they retaliated by beheading an American journalist, James Foley. Heir motive is conflict instigated due to the role that Americans were playing in the Syrian war.

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Results and Aftermath

Brutal murdering of the American journalist was followed by ISIS releasing a video to the public as a warning. This was meant to pass a message of control to the United States and its citizens. The information reached the Whitehouse, which gave its sincere condolences o the family of Foley. A statement that the militia group released earlier had warned to drown all Americans in blood as a sign of displaying their anger. The incident escalated the Syrian war to involve Americans who had to fight to protect their fellow countrymen. It remains to be seen that international relations between the Islamic State and Americans deteriorated following the attack on Foley. The militia warned to keep on murdering Americans in cold blood till their government agrees with them. An attack on an American individual is an attack on America, and the country had o treat it as a terrorist attack.

The happenings resulted in an escalated rivalry between ISIS and the United States government, which has now lasted for years. Numerous American citizens have been held hostage by the terrorist groups for their ill intentions. This prompted the United States government to intensify its fight on terrorism and its possible implications. The plans to eliminate the group were put underway, resulting in the murder of their leader in a recent contest with the US troops. Many have since thanked the United States government for eliminating the leader of the most wanted terrorist group in the world. Indeed, the events of the attack changed the dynamics of the international relations policy and the fight on terrorism. The brutal murder of James Foley by the ISIS could have been avoided if the US government had not meddled in the Syrian war.


Callimachi, R. (2014). Before Killing James Foley, ISIS Demanded Ransom From US. The New York Times. Np20.

Friis, S. M. (2015). ‘Beyond anything we have ever seen’: beheading videos and the visibility of violence in the war against ISIS. International Affairs91(4), 725-746.

Hubbard, B., & Schmitt, E. (2014). Military skill and terrorist technique fuel success of ISIS. The New York Times27.

Mohammed, I., Sosteric, M., Hathaway, W. T., Hutchcraft, T., & Brasted, M. (2014). ISIS behead American journalist. The Socjournal.

Styszynski, M. (2014). ISIS and Al Qaeda: expanding the jihadist discourse. Counter Terrorist Trends and Analyses6(8), 9-14.

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