James Foley’s Parents Aren’t Impressed by the Probable Killing of His ISIS Executioner

ROPI/ZUMA

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


The Department of Defense announced on Friday that it was “reasonably certain” it had killed “Jihadi John,” the English-speaking ISIS fighter who took part in the filmed executions of Western journalists. But the executioner’s probable death meant little to the parents of James Foley, the American journalist who was perhaps Jihadi John’s most high-profile victim.

“It is a very small solace to learn that Jihadi John may have been killed by the U.S. government,” said John and Diane Foley in a statement on Friday. “If only so much effort had been given to finding and rescuing Jim and the other hostages who were subsequently murdered by ISIS, they might be alive today.”

Jihadi John was the nickname given to Mohammed Emwazi, who was born in Kuwait but moved to the United Kingdom as a young child. After leaving the UK for Syria in 2013, he became internationally famous as the face (albeit, masked) of ISIS’s execution campaign against Western hostages. He appeared in a series of videos that showed the brutal killings of Foley, fellow journalist Steven Sotloff, aid worker Peter (or Abdul-Rahman) Kassig, and several other ISIS captives. That notoriety apparently vaulted him onto the Pentagon’s list of priority targets: When Department of Defense spokesman Peter Cook briefed the press on Friday, he referred to Emwazi as a “high-value individual” and the sole intended target of the strike.

“He was a recruitment tool for that organization,” US Army Col. Steve Warren said in a press briefing from Baghdad on Friday. “I mean, this guy was a human animal…Killing him is probably making the world a better place.”

Warren said the strike was carried out using a Hellfire missile fired from a drone over Raqqa, the Syrian city that serves as the self-proclaimed capital of the ISIS caliphate. Cook said there was no reason to believe there had been civilian casualties.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest