The beheading of an American journalist by Islamic extremists the past week angered Americans and our government. When a video on the beheading was released, our government revealed a secret mission by a special operations team to rescue him, and others held inside Syria by forces of the Islamic State. The mission failed to find him and the others being held, including other journalists.
It was the first mission of its kind into Syria by the U.S. forces since the start of the civil war. Officials kept the mission secret in an attempt “to preserve future opportunities” to conduct another one. Another reason to release information about the raid was to let Americans know that the administration is concerned about all hostages held by terrorists.
The journalist who was beheaded, James Foley, like all the media representatives in war zones, understood the risks involved. He was there because he wanted to be — to report on the civil war. Every major war or conflict has journalists in harm’s way. They know going in what the risks are. They know they could be killed or captured and held hostage.
Our government has a longstanding policy of not dealing with terrorists who hold Americans hostage and demand a ransom. If this country would pay a ransom, it would put more Americans at risk of being taken captive. There have been prisoner exchanges.
The danger to journalists in Syria is underscored by the fact that it is believed that there are about 20 of them held captive. A number of them are freelance writers and photojournalists. It is believed that the person responsible for Foley’s death is a British citizen who in the video was masked and made an anti-American rant before the beheading. Britain is worried about the number of Brits who have joined terrorist groups and who may return to England and stage attacks.
Foley believed he had a calling to tell the stories of people he saw as voiceless and powerless, according to The Wall Street Journal. A story to tell — that’s what motivates journalists, even if it means putting their lives in the line of fire.