The beheading of an American journalist by the militants of the self-proclaimed organisation the Islamic State highlights once again the barbaric mindset that has become the hallmark of terror groups worldwide.
Kidnapped in November 2012, James Foley was a brave journalist whose dispatches, in the words of his mother, “expose[d] the world to the suffering of the Syrian people”. The killing was supposed to be the IS leadership’s response to the American air strikes on the IS militants.
But, as made clear by Washington, Foley’s murder is not going to make America change its policy. Calling Foley’s murder “an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world”, President Barack Obama said his government would continue to do “what we must do to protect our people” and that America would be “ruthless”.
Tributes to Foley have come from his family and friends, and his mother said “we have never been prouder of Jim”. We in Pakistan can relate to Foley’s death — we can recall the trauma surrounding Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Pearl, who was murdered by militants in a similar fashion in February 2002.
Pakistan is no place for intrepid journalists, unless they are prepared for the consequences, and some of them indeed have paid with their lives for their courage.
Both foreign and Pakistani newsmen have fallen victim to terror not only at the hands of jihadists but also, allegedly, secret agencies and secular political parties and groups who have punished media personnel for doing their duty and reporting the truth in spite of threats to their lives.
The list is a long one, and it has made Pakistan one of the most dangerous places for journalists. However, the militants should know that Foley’s murder and the shocking display of the crime on video are not likely to discourage newspersons the world over from discharging their duty.
All such acts do is to highlight the barbaric nature of elements and groups wedded to terror, that perpetrate brutality in the name of religion.
Published in Dawn, August 22nd, 2014