The fallout of the purported beheading of journalist James Wright Foley — in a clip released by the terrorist outfit ISIS dubbed “A Message to America” — continued Wednesday, with speculation on the identity of the jihadist in the clip, the government’s efforts to try and reclaim the kidnapped reporter, and scrutiny on President Barack Obama for hitting the links on the tense day. As we previously reported, the 40-year-old journalist — who was kidnapped Nov. 22, 2012 in Syria — was compelled to read a diatribe in which he said that his “real killers” were “the U.S. government,” and that he wished he “wasn’t American;” after which, the New Hampshire native’s detached head was shown.
$100 Million Ransom:
ISIS terrorists tried to command $100 million ransom from the U.S. government in exchange for Foley’s safe return, the New York Times reported. The U.K. has also declined such offers in the past. In addition to the cash payments, the group has asked for a number of prisoners in the United States to be released. One of note is Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui, who’s currently in custody in Texas. The terrorist group is patterning itself after Al Qaeda, which has drummed up more than $125 million in ransom pay-off the past five years from European officials, the paper reported.
The robed and masked ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) terrorist in the clip is purportedly a native of Britain, and has been referred to as “John,” according the Guardian newspaper, citing accounts from former hostages held in Raqqa, Syria. The moniker is a reference (hostages gave him) to the Beatles, as language analysts pinpointed London as his probable homebase. The paper, citing accounts from former hostages, reported that “John” is well-educated, a radical Islam believer to the core, and has been the chief negotiator with the hostages’ families. Scotland Yard has been involved with the investigation into the man’s true identity. British Prime Minister David Cameron, reacting to the developments, said that “if true, the murder of James Foley is shocking and depraved.”
Dozens of special operations troops, under Obama’s orders, embarked on an unsuccessful attempt to locate and save the hostages in Syria earlier this summer, according to the White House’s counterterrorism adviser, Lisa Monaco. "The U.S. government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the president authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens,” Monaco said. “Unfortunately, that mission was ultimately not successful because the hostages were not present." A firefight with Islamic extremists commenced when the troops were airdropped into the area; several extremists, but no Americans, were killed. Wednesday’s admission was the U.S.’s first admission of a presence on Syrian soil in more than three years.
The vacationing president — after saying the U.S. would be “vigilant” and “relentless” in response to the slaughter — was coming under heavy scrutiny after golfing in Martha’s Vineyard following his speech. Obama played in a golf quartet that included friend Cy Walker, tech businessman Glenn Hutchins and former Miami Heat center Alonzo Mourning. Former Vice President Dick Cheney’s daughter Liz tweeted that the commander-in-chief “is more dedicated to golfing than he is to defending the nation.” Laurent Fabius, France’s foreign minister, said that “when people are dying, you must return from vacation.”