Why Journalist's "Staged" Beheading Matters

Questions about whether James Foley's killing was staged matter, and here’s why.
Why Journalist's "Staged" Beheading Matters

James Foley’s beheading made him into something no journalist wants to be: a part of the story.

Not only has his murder by ISIS terrorists made him part of the story, it has made the freelancer for GlobalPost a central figure in the story about America going back to war in Iraq.

In what has become a grim kabuki theater since the beheading of Daniel Pearl by al-Qaeda, Foley’s death was apparently recorded in high definition and broadcast globally on social media.

Now the question of whether Foley’s killing was staged for the cameras has arisen, the suggestion being that his murder took place off-camera. The analysis holds that his apparent beheading by a British-accented jihadi was merely a show. The big question is why, and why would that matter?

Let’s start off with one major premise that those stories missed. Foley’s death was absolutely staged for the cameras. The very nature of terrorism is that it is staged. What separates ordinary barbarity from terrorism is that the latter is by definition a gruesome performance art.

Terrorism is about headlines.

So why would ISIS fake it? Firstly, and it’s only speculation, is the possibility that Foley and his killers struck a deal: He reads their message to America clearly for maximum impact and plays along with the cameras in exchange for a quick death later.

What does ISIS gain from that?

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