God Bless Jim Foley: A Man I Know Has Been Beheaded By ISIS

BY Herschel Smith
9 years, 10 months ago

Journalist James Foley (he corresponded with me as Jim) has been beheaded by ISIS.  I choose not to remember him from the recent photographs, but as the wonderful young man he was.  As a note to ISIS, I don’t believe a word he had to say while under duress.  I knew him better than you did.  You wasted your time with his confessions, or charges, or whatever you forced him to say.

We first corresponded during my blogging on the war in Afghanistan.  I initiated the conversations with him, but he was very warm in his effusive praise and kindness towards me.  He worked primarily for the Global Post, but did a good bit of embedded independent work.  He was in Kandahar at the time, and politely recommended that I link his blog, A World Of Troubles, which redirects now to Free James Foley.

Jim was kidnapped in Libya early in 2011.  I had also made significant use of his fantastic work in The Five Hundred Meter War.  The U.S. Army later contacted me wanting the rights to use this video in training and analysis, and I directed them to Jim who (I hope) made some money from the work.  He told me that he would gladly sell the rights for a small fee.

I have since reconsidered my position on long distance warfare, and concluded that it isn’t necessarily that the 5.56 mm round is all that ineffective at long distances, but that based on subsequent conversations with various officers, no one (Army or Marine Corps) teaches their men to shoot uphill.  All of their ranges are flat.  Then again, the 5.56 mm round does tend to yaw in flight, which causes problems at long distances.  But Travis Haley has shown us that the 5.56 mm can be effective to beyond 500 yards, and my son qualified at 500 yards as a Marine.

But I digress.  Suffice it to say that Jim was an important voice in bringing this feature of the war to our attention.  Jim called me “an important voice in the war” in one e-mail exchange, but Jim’s voice was far more important.  His reporting was at the same time fact-filled and accurate, and personal and engaging. Jim was the consummate professional, but a genuinely nice person.

I have long since left analysis of the war(s), given that we failed to negotiate a reasonable SOFA in Iraq and proved that we wanted to continue the social sciences game in Afghanistan rather than prosecute a war.  I recommended that we leave without another drop of American blood spilled, and never looked back.

Sort of.  I have often thought of Jim and what might be happening to him.  There aren’t many folks from those days I know only electronically to whom I feel such a kinship.  Tim Lynch and Michael Yon are a couple, but the list is short.  People like that are the sort where if you met up with them somewhere it would be like meeting a long lost brother, and the conversation would flow without any effort at all.

It was hard to be accepted in military blogging with such parochial and hierarchical (even if unofficial) structure, and with the desire for control by a few.  Jim’s acceptance and warmness was welcome, as it is with the folks whom I engage in my current interests of gun and gun rights (like David Codrea and Mike Vanderboegh).

I will miss Jim.  I give my warmest, most sincere and most heartfelt condolences to his family.  Your family gave us a good and wonderful man.  We are worse for this loss.

My brief note to ISIS is this.  You screwed up.  I’ve previously been told how good you are, how savvy, how connected to social networks you’ve been and how you’re coming for us.

I can’t speak for the folks up North since the collectivists may have disarmed my fellow countrymen by now, but I dare ISIS to come South and bring your brand of sharia to North Carolina or South Carolina.  I dare you.

You don’t scare me in the least and you didn’t impress me by harming my friend Jim.  Come to the land where the American insurgents beat up the best that Lord Cornwallis had to offer.  Come try to plant your damn ISIS flag in my front yard, or try to force my wife or daughter to wear a burqa.  The result will be swift and brutal, involving magazines full of 5.56 mm rounds and 230 grain fat boys.  I have guns too, and mine still have their buttstocks unlike your dumb ass rifles that can’t be aimed.  Mine can shoot 1 MOA, and I can do about the same.  I see your stupid videos where you waste ammunition by shooting at the air.  I’ve laughed at them.

I had previously lamented the plight of the poor Christians in Syria and Iraq, pleading with them and Christians around the world to arm themselves before it is too late.  I have ridiculed the Christian church worldwide for its sloth, arrogance and self centeredness in refusing to help fellow Christians or even pray for them.

But this isn’t just a world away.  It’s personal, for I knew Jim.  You killed a friend, and I owe you.  I pray that you end in hell, and that very soon, screaming out in agony from thirst while you suffer in the lake of fire for eternity.  My only regret is that in all likelihood I won’t be the one to send you there.  I don’t think you’ll ever get to my doorstep.  You’ll die before you make it here because my armed fellow countrymen won’t tolerate you.


I am sent an article by Daniel Greenfield, published at Front Page Magazine.  It is entitled James Foley Went Looking to Support Terrorists in Syria, Instead They Cut Off His Head.  I have learned to ignore anything published at Front Page Magazine, but in the interest of full disclosure and openness, I’ll give the link below.

Daniel’s thesis is that he was a terrorist sympathizer.  He knows this based on his Twitter feed where he retweeted the posts others made.  Certainly, based on Jim’s review of my own analysis work of OIF (communicated directly to me), he was no terrorist sympathizer.  He was an independent journalist.  In fact, Daniel’s commeters try to tell him in the comments that Jim was taken to task in his Twitter feed for NOT taking sides.  It’s too late at that point.  Daniel is committed to his thesis and can’t roll it back.  This is one of the hazards of writing.

I think Greenfield otherwise does good analysis, but I think he missed the boat on this one, and badly so.  For me his thesis lands somewhere between highly unlikely and totally impossible.  It is my policy never to link to Front Page Magazine.  I’ll break that policy this one time and give you Daniel’s article in the interest of full disclosure and to show that I’m always willing to listen to all sides.


Tom Rogan:

His death won’t be broadcast many places, but take my word for his final courage. As the terrorist moves his knife downwards, Foley grimaces but does not cry out. This, after all, is the man that he was, a man who faced great danger to bring knowledge to the world. After being imprisoned by Qaddafi loyalists for 44 days during the Libyan civil war, Foley returned to the country to finish his reporting. When asked why he did so, Foley offered a simple answer. “Why wouldn’t I go back? People had done so much for me back home. I was humbled, I felt indebted to them. [We] wanted to connect the dots; we wanted to finish that story.”

Foley did finish that story (the series about his captivity is here). We should always remember his life and his accomplishments. But we must also remember his moment of passing: facing down a murderer hiding behind a black mask.

And from PBS:

… she was worried that I was being forced to say everything I was saying over the phone. And I just wanted to tell her I was strong, I was praying, I could make it. I knew it was going to be more time, but I was doing — physically, I was fine, and I wasn’t being harmed.

And she was worried that they were making me say these things, but she also said, oh, so many people have been praying for you and so many of your friends and family have come to our assistance.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks


  1. On August 20, 2014 at 6:31 am, III J said:

    Rest In Peace. Prayers for the family. And Damnation for the satan worshiping cowards.

  2. On August 21, 2014 at 1:37 pm, Big Johnson said:

    Too damn bad that evrytime one of these filth Muslim bastards does this to a American that one of that 5 imams in America has been taken out and fed to pigs.

  3. On August 23, 2014 at 3:58 pm, III J said:

    @Big – sorry, but contrary to popular belief, pigs don’t eat sh*t.

  4. On August 20, 2014 at 8:48 am, Paul B said:

    Rest in Peace, Jim foley.

    I have been saying for years they are animals and if I was 30 years younger I would have gone. As it is I need to wait on them coming here. I prefer to using long range bolts but I would put some 5.56 down range as well.

    All of them need to be exterminated.

  5. On August 20, 2014 at 1:40 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Paul, bolt action sounds fine to me. I could have written it to say “using my Tikka .270,” but chose to do it the way I did. The best gun is the one you have in your hand when you need it.

  6. On August 20, 2014 at 9:26 am, Josh said:

    It’s high time we, the entire Western world, start holding Islam accountable for what it is: the most violent and fucked up religion in human history (excuse my language please). There exist peaceful Muslims, yes. But a large enough portion of Muslims are evil, radical and brutal, among many other bad things. The Muslim and Arab world needs to call themselves and their religion to account, and if they don’t willingly, they should be made to.

    I do not tolerate their religion. I do not tolerate their existence.

  7. On August 20, 2014 at 10:07 am, MattBracken said:

    The timing is strange, but I just wrote an essay yesterday called “The Islamic Jihad Conquest Formula.” Beheading enemies is part and parcel of Mohammed’s eternally and infernally evil formula. http://westernrifleshooters.wordpress.com/2014/08/20/bracken-the-islamic-jihad-conquest-formula/

  8. On August 20, 2014 at 10:16 am, Herschel Smith said:

    I’ve read it. Outstanding essay Matt.

  9. On August 20, 2014 at 10:18 am, MattBracken said:

    Thanks, Herschel. I believe that the coming Islamic State atrocities will wake up America in time. It’s probably too late for Europe.

  10. On August 20, 2014 at 6:32 pm, Anthony Popplewell said:

    Loved your books and your essays, “what I saw on the way to the coup” was a favorite. I hope you are correct about waking up. I worry you overestimate a good many of our own people. As long as the cable is working, their homes are heated and cooled, food on the table, they will sit and watch and complain.

  11. On August 21, 2014 at 10:49 am, sulbernick said:

    Maybe you are right, but there are lots of us in Europe itching for the gloves to be taken off.

  12. On August 21, 2014 at 10:59 am, MattBracken said:

    Civil War in Europe between Muslims and the rest is the background of my next novel.

  13. On August 20, 2014 at 6:34 pm, Anthony Popplewell said:

    I have posted a couple of replies and noticed I has missed something. I am sorry for the loss of your friend.

  14. On August 20, 2014 at 7:55 pm, Breeze said:

    “….most violent and fucked up religion in human history”
    I think death cult is more accurate. They make the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia look like boy scouts.

  15. On August 20, 2014 at 9:41 am, no_tubes said:

    You guys realize that this was done to get Americans in the mood for more war, right? Listen to the calls for blood from the people who were previously saying that we need to just get out of there and leave them to their own devices.
    BTW, wasn’t McStain over there a few months ago trying to gain sympathy and funding for these guys to set them against Assad? Sure was. They had Foley in their clutches while McStain (at O’bomb-a’s behest) was posing for photos with them. Things that make ya’ go hmmmm…..

  16. On August 20, 2014 at 9:47 am, Herschel Smith said:

    Don’t conflate this to be something that it isn’t. It is a remembrance of a good man, with a call to arms to defend self and home. No one called for an invasion. But with the open borders crowd controlling things in Washington, there will be a cost to pay for waiting until it comes to our shores. Of that you can be certain.

  17. On August 20, 2014 at 9:52 am, no_tubes said:

    I apologize for getting in the way of your eulogy for your friend. I’ve just been observing a sea change in the attitudes of people regarding Iraq/MENA involvement based on incidents like this one.

  18. On August 20, 2014 at 9:55 am, Herschel Smith said:

    No problem. It’s one thing to take careful note of what’s happening and prepare for it. It’s quite another to log for seven years like I did the failures of our elites to prosecute war in favor of social science. I wouldn’t with my last breath recommend that we go back. It would be as much of a failure as the last time we tried to do it. I have a long history with this issue.

  19. On August 20, 2014 at 10:43 am, Josh said:

    I haven’t heard anyone at all calling for war. I’ve heard everyone calling for a solution and recognizing that a land invasion is not part of that. I don’t think anyone knows what the solution is, but they recognize there MUST be one. Earth cannot tolerate the existence of ISIS.

    America will not go to war, but it will come to us in a very different way than ever seen.

  20. On August 21, 2014 at 10:48 am, no_tubes said:

    When people start saying that radical Islam must be crushed, and ISIS must be eliminated, that is a call for war.
    ISIS was created by the US. They were trained by US and Israeli special forces in Jordan and Turkey. Their wounded are treated by Israelis in field hospitals. They get their funding from Saudi and Qatar, and weapons from Libya/Iraq via the US. Ever wonder how they managed to just drive right across Iraq ( in brand new Ford and Toyota pickups) without the US even noticing until it was too late? Do a little research.
    stephencarter is a .gov shill.

  21. On August 21, 2014 at 2:27 pm, Josh said:

    When people start saying that radical Islam must be crushed, and ISIS must be eliminated, that is a call for war.

    No it’s not. I’ve said Earth cannot tolerate the existence of ISIS. I have not called for war. I have not heard anyone call for war. We’re not at war. We don’t have plans for war. We are not preparing for war.

    Ever wonder how they managed to just drive right across Iraq ( in brand new Ford and Toyota pickups) without the US even noticing until it was too late?

    This is tin foil hat territory you’re treading in. No matter how badly you and others seem to want the US to be responsible for all mankind’s ills, it isn’t. It cannot be. ISIS didn’t drive “across” Iraq. They drove into Iraq; you’re use of hyperbole doesn’t help your case. The US did notice. It was all over the news. ISIS drove into Iraq in stolen vehicles simply because there was no one to stop them.

    I feel like folks like you must get a kick out of believing this stuff. Like it’s a kind of entertainment, fantasy, for you.

  22. On August 21, 2014 at 11:06 pm, no_tubes said:

    The US is and has been bombing ISIS positions, both in ‘Kurdistan’ and around Mosul. Google it dude.
    Furthermore, they absolutely did cross hundreds of miles of Syrian and Iraqi territory in nice shiny new Ford and Toyota pickups. The CIA created Al-Qaeda in the 1970s. The US has been a perpetrator of terrorism for decades (Operation Gladio ring any bells? How about Cointellpro? MKUltra?) Use your search engine and find the truth. ISIS was originally funded and trained by the US and it’s “allies” to be overthrow Assad after the first attempt failed. The ISIS boys had other ideas.
    BTW, guess why ‘we’ are bombing them to stop them overrunning the Kurds. Hint: It has a lot to do with the Kurds directly selling oil to Israel.

  23. On August 22, 2014 at 8:56 am, Josh said:

    You’re equating bombing runs (I don’t need to google it, literally the whole world knows about them) with war. War is a policy, not strategic military action.

    Anyway, half if what you say makes sense, the other half of everything you say sounds crazy. I don’t know how to have a conversation with you.

  24. On August 21, 2014 at 2:29 pm, Keelie said:

    The first thing to do is to utterly destroy all of their symbols, from the Kabbah to individual mosques.

  25. On August 21, 2014 at 2:33 pm, Josh said:

    Destroying religious symbols wouldn’t do any good. And anyway, I’m not personally calling for the destruction of Islam, I’m making a statement – ISIS must go – while also recognizing that peaceful Muslims do exist and deserve the right to life like every other peaceable human.

  26. On August 21, 2014 at 9:47 am, stephencarter said:

    Why is a change of attitude automatically to be seen as a manipulation to induce people to do something they would not do ordinarily? That’s quintessential Marxist thinking. Everything is always a grand conspiracy by those in power to disinform and get us to sanction their original unsanctioned plan. For no_tubes it’s all a game, he’s trying to manipulate readers here to pull back, question their resolve, let the nihilism seep in, and abandon their rational, considered course of action. That’s how the left always works. That is how a psychopath thinks, watching for an enemy behind every tree … No_tubes is a leftist carrying out his disinformation here, seeking to drain away resolve, sow doubt, encourage appeasement and surrender, spread his poison …

  27. On August 20, 2014 at 11:38 am, Leigh said:

    My condolences, Hershel, on the loss of your friend. God speed, Jim.

    Unlike yourself, I can speak for your friends from the North – There is more to us than the liberal cess-pools on the coast. They are the “Yankees”, of which you speak. I know many people that feel the way you do, and NO – we will not yield.
    I have grown up in the areas most pertainent to the American Revolution. My neighbors, and I, are proud of our history and our heritage. We believe in the principles and the efforts of our Founders. I can not say for certainty what I will do, should the need arise. I will say this – I will not live on my knees. I will defend my family, and I will defend my land, until my bolt locks open. I will die a free man. Defiant to the last.

    Live Free or Die. Death is not the greatest of Evils. USCA Gen John Stark

    Whitehall, NY

  28. On August 20, 2014 at 2:22 pm, Nash Montana said:

    Every. Word. Thank. You.

  29. On August 20, 2014 at 3:09 pm, CHICAGO BOB said:

    Please advise if you were aware of this.

    “James Foley was one of a new breed of activists calling themselves journalists. He didn’t travel to report on a story, but to promote an agenda. And the agendawas obvious from his Twitter feed.

    Any human life lost is tragic, but a moral individual would have much more empathy for the Syrian Christians who suffered at the hands of Foley’s favorite Jihadists than one of their pet propagandists.

    Foley came to Syria to support the Sunni Islamist rebels against the Syrian government.
    I read your thoughts so could you please let me know what you think of this? Is the arthur right or were you aware of Foley’s activities?

    “He cheered on the Sunni Muslim terrorists fighting to ethnically cleanse the Christians of Aleppo. In the conflict between Israel and Hamas, his tweets and retweets were chock full of pro-terrorist propaganda.

    But Foley ran afoul of at least some of the Sunni Jihadists in Syria. His twitter feed was filled with references to the FSA. And the FSA was going to be eclipsed by the Al Qaeda affiliates. And that was where he ended up.

    When Austin Tice, an actual freelance journalist was kidnapped by Jihadists, Foley ridiculed the idea that Jihadists had kidnapped him. Surely Syrian Jihadists wouldn’t do that sort of thing.

    Except they did.

    When Newsweek’s Muslim Rage cover story came out, Foley mocked it too. Raging Muslims. How silly and Islamophobic.

    Foley was fanatically anti-Israel and was even willing to echo Iranian propaganda.”

  30. On August 20, 2014 at 3:13 pm, Herschel Smith said:

    Oh good grief. You read my article just like reactionaries read Greenfield’s article – without thinking. And you didn’t even read all the way through my article.

    I assess Greenfield’s piece in an update to the very article (mine) to which you posted your comment.

    Greenfield’s analysis is poor, he didn’t know Foley, he thinks he does based on retweets of tweets made by others, he is imagining things, and he is spread way, way too thin on this one. He painted himself into a corner and can’t get out.

    So yes. I am advised. Are you advised that I said all of this in the article?

  31. On August 20, 2014 at 4:21 pm, CHICAGO BOB said:

    I wasn’t trying to besmirch Foley I was just looking for the truth.


  32. On August 20, 2014 at 4:53 pm, robertsgunshop said:

    My deepest sympathy to you and the family of James Foley. Semper Fi.

  33. On August 20, 2014 at 5:59 pm, Thomas Crowley said:

    RIP, Jim Foley and thank you Herschel for your good article. I also wish I would live long enough to put a few of them away also. Can only hope.

  34. On August 20, 2014 at 6:29 pm, Anthony Popplewell said:

    I fear sir we will not understand the danger of these monsters until they show themselves in our midst. People have gone back to the we are safe in America position and it is a shame. I do want want us to live in fear but understanding the enemy is needed and we as a society do not. Maybe we choose not to. I wrote and entire book centered around what I thought would happen after 9/11. Sold a few copies on amazon but I actually believe that we will see this danger emerge in out country. These groups are becoming to well funded and have to many converts. God help us.

  35. On August 21, 2014 at 9:33 am, stephencarter said:

    Americans are seeing their tax money wasted. Imagine what a private consortium of interests with money from hundreds of contributors could do in the Middle East. But instead you’re sending record amounts to Washington for Obozo and Holder to waste. The USA is spending $650 Bln now on defense annually and it’s largely being wasted. Really, imagine if even 10% of that amount was available to private interests, to well-trained, well-armed American insurgents ready and willing and financed to go in and just start rolling up insurgent areas, entire areas, just waste every square inch of any place that is allowing Islamist ISIS to operate. Which brings me to my main point. Why continue sending money to Washington and just see it wasted, it’s pathetic, it must be a sin in God’s eyes, sending an endless flood of money to people who become angrier with every dollar they receive, which isn’t so surprising, psychologically. So why not pull up stakes and leave America, dodge the criminal IRS, go Galt, and contribute your permanently deferred tax payouts to USA insurgent groups to go in and just turn the Middle East into a sea of fire, literally. How many Westerners have to be slaughtered for people to start realizing no Western government has the cojones to take the fight to the enemy, and just begin the slaughter. Imagine the damage just a few bunker buster bombs could do in a crowded marketplace where Islamists are doing their perennial subversion. Nothing will change until the Muslim world realizes that the West will bomb and kill and slaughter in the tens of thousands for any collaboration with terrorists. The more the West appeases, the worse the day of reckoning will be. Read Bracken’s recent article on how beheading has been SOP for Islamists for centuries. ISIS will come to the USA unless they’re stopped. Do you think il castrato Obozo will do anything to prevent that, or will he aid it behind the scenes? It’ll soon be time to go Galt, withdraw your money from financing Uncle Sam’s obscene welfare machine, and use the money to defend the real America. I’m Canadian, I want to see Americans take their country back. Godspeed.

  36. On August 21, 2014 at 7:44 pm, Mahan said:

    Sorry sir for losing your friend. I am just a teenager from Iran. Also my condolences for Mr Obama.

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This article is filed under the category(s) Personal,War Reporting and was published August 19th, 2014 by Herschel Smith.

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