I never crossed paths with James Foley. I regret not having met him.
A freelance reporter of great skill and courage, Foley was murdered, on camera, by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq by cutting off his head.
I know "beheading" is a mellower term, but I don't think this kind of barbarism should be softened.
According to the BBC:
"James Foley, 40, had reported extensively across the Middle East, working for US publication GlobalPost and other media outlets including French news agency AFP."
Foley had been reporting on the appalling situation in Syria when he was abducted on Nov. November 22, 2012. About six months later, the head of GlobalPost said, in a statement:
"We have obtained multiple independent reports from very credible confidential sources... that confirm our assessment that Jim is now being held by the Syrian government in a prison... under the control of the Syrian Air Force Intelligence service. It is likely Jim is being held with one or more Western journalists, including, most likely, at least one other American."
It is not clear how Foley went from being in the clutches of Bashir al-Assad's forces to the control of the anti-Assad forces now known as ISIS (or ISAL) over the past two years.
Earlier this summer, according to the LA Times,
"The United States sent a team of Special Operation Forces to Syria to try to rescue slain American journalist James Foley and other hostages held by Islamic militants, U.S. officials said Wednesday."
Wring your hands all you want, but President Obama was not the bad guy in this. Though unsuccessful,
"The President authorized the mission because the hostages were in danger with each passing day in the hands of the Islamic State militant group. At least one member of Congress was also briefed."
ISIS or ISIL or IS or whatever they're calling themselves this week, is an organization of extreme menace. Unlike al-Qaeda, these guys don't want to just drive planes into buildings or blow up subway stations in London, they have seized and are planning to hold large amounts of real estate.
Part of the real estate they have seized contains oil.
"A month ago, the ISIS-controlled oil market in Iraq was reported to be worth $1 million a day. Now, with expansion, further control of oil fields and smuggling routes, the market is believed to be raising around $2 million a day."
Just in case you (like me) are not wholly conversant with higher mathematics, the CNN report goes on to explain:
"This could fetch them $730 million a year, enough to sustain the operation beyond Iraq."
ISIS is not hiding in caves in Afghanistan, nor in semi-secret compounds in Pakistan. ISIS controls a large swath of territory in Syria and Iraq and, unless and until we bomb the you-know-what out of them, they are likely to stay there.
And unless and until we do, it is likely they will use that territory as terrorist band-camp to train terrorists to carry its anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-Jewish to Western targets putting everyone at risk.
The murder of James Foley was not the act of a rogue crazy man. He had been held hostage for nearly two years and there is some reason ISIS chose this week to kill him.
My office is six blocks from the White House. My wife's office is two blocks closer. A potential attack is far more than a desultory musing at Mullings Central.
I have no idea if or whether ISIS has the capacity to launch an attack on Washington, DC or London or Paris or anyplace else.
But I believe its goal is to attack the West. According to the BusinessInsider.com
"ISIS controls more territory than the governments of Israel and Lebanon. It controls nearly a third of Iraq alone, according to the Long War Journal."
I don't begrudge President Obama some time off, but this is a significant change in the nature of the War on Terror.
He needs to consider whether playing golf on Martha's Vineyard projects a better image than being in the White House right now.
The murder of James Foley might be just the opening gambit in a much more complex chess match.