The following is a translation of an August 22, 2014 article written by Majed Abdul Hadi for Al Arabi Al Jadeed (The New Arab) about the barbaric murder of American journalist James Foley. Majed Abdul Hadi is a Palestinian journalist and writer living in Qatar and working for Al Jazeera. I decided to translate this instead of write a piece of my own, because I feel it is important for people in the West to see this reaction coming from Arab Muslims. Abdul Hadi’s reaction is not unique by any stretch. But I chose his article because it read like a eulogy, as well as a lament over the current state of affairs in the region, which James Foley paid with his life and precious blood as he tried to be a voice for the voiceless.
The Noble American
He neither shook, nor his voice quivered, nor did he stumble on his words. The knife was an arm span away from eyes, or less. He knew that it would shortly go through his neck and separate his head from his body. But he faced death with rare bravery, and he delivered in his final moments of life a strong message to the rulers of his country, and to his family. In it he said a lot about politics, and very little about emotions.
I write here about an American (yes an American), named James Foley. Not about one of the early Muslim knights. He is not a General who came to Arab countries as an invader. Nor is he a soldier in the American Marines. He is not even a mercenary fighting for Blackwater, the company with a bad reputation. He was a journalist who chose to come to Syria, as his grieving mother, who is also brave, said. He came to uncover the suffering of the Syrian people under oppression and tyranny. But he was kidnapped, and killed by a treacherous group.
We may disagree, or agree, with what Foley said in his final moments of life. There may be among us, regrettably, those who support his killing as punishment to America for the crimes it commits against the people of this region. Just the same as there may be among us those who, regrettably, stand with President Barak Obama’s administration against what it calls terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as in Palestine, without any distinction.
But the space between those two extremes can accommodate a third position, or more, that would put our humanity as Arabs and Muslims over all considerations, without being heedless to our national, political, and religious interests.
As the slaughtered American appeared noble and brave in that image, the Muslim who slaughtered him appeared wretched and cowardly. The first was forced on his knees in preparation for his slaughter, but he grew taller as he spoke his final words than the second who was standing on his feet. [As for the killer], he spoke eloquent English, which indicates he probably lived in the West for a period of time. He learned from them, ate from their bread, then betrayed the innocent of their children.
Is this the image, the message that the “Islamic State Organization”, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS),wants to deliver to the world? Or is it the path of slaughter that has blinded their sight and insight, after they immersed themselves in the blood of Arabs, Muslims and Christians, as well as the Yazidis, all in order to impose a pledge of allegiance by force to a caricatured caliphate and an unknown caliph?
In answering this we have to set a side the juristic debates on the permissibility of killing prisoners, because Foley was simply not a prisoner captured by ISIS fighters in the battlefield. It is within the means of any group of men, or even a group of teenage boys to do, and very easily, the same as they had done. They kidnapped an unarmed man, and took him to an empty field so they can slaughter him with a knife, then disseminated on the Internet his picture with head on his chest.
This is not bravery, and it is not knighthood. It is an atrocious crime that no human being (I said human being) can justify. It presents us to the world as bandits of criminals and brigands, whose atrocities betray the struggle that millions of others have engaged in for the sake of freedom, democracy, and human rights in Palestine, Syria, Iraq, Egypt, and numerous Arab countries.
Moreover, an action like this, even if it was done under the slogans of standing up to Obama, only serves him. It feeds the feelings of hatred and desires for revenge in the hearts of Americans, and gives Obama more reasons to continue in the policies those who cut off heads claim to be resisting.
The result now is that the world finds itself looking at two images. The first is dark in black and white, taken by American airplanes, of targets they are striking without showing the victims. The other is clear, colorful, and in high definition, in which the “New Barbarians” slaughter an innocent young man who supported their cause.
More than that, the West finds itself with a golden opportunity to support its war against the Palestinian Resistance, and to turn a blind eye more and more to the crimes of the Syrian governing regime against its opposition. The same will also be in Iraq, Yemen, and Egypt, as long as terrorism is a justification that ISIS and its like of those death organizations do not desist from providing it every time America or Israel needed it.