Remembering James Foley and Steven Sotloff

James Foley

James Foley


Stephen Sotloff

Dear Members,

The senseless and brutal beheading of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State (ISIS) will only strengthen America’s resolve to eventually rid the world of these barbaric terrorists.

Peter Theo Curtis returned to his Boston home after being freed by the al-Nusra, a Sunni extremist group that held the 45-year-old journalist hostage for 22 months. In a brief televised interview he promised his peers he would soon tell his story. I recall him saying, “ I am one of you.”

Foley and Sotloff will always remain “one of us,” but will never again be able to tell their stories. Foley, 40, a GlobalPost photojournalist, received a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2008. He was kidnapped in Syria two years ago and previously covered the war in Libya. In 2011, he told the Boston Globe about his arrest and captivity there. “You don’t want to be defined as a guy who got captured in 2011. I believe that front-line journalism is important.”

Sotloff, 31, attended the University of Central Florida and had stints in Yemen and Egypt. He freelanced for Time and Foreign Policies magazines and last seen in Syria, August, 2013. He was noted for his heartfelt reporting about the brutality of the Syrian war.

Foley and Sotloff were incredibly courageous and committed professionals who sacrificed their lives to get the story. They will be remembered. The Chicago Journalists Association will pay tribute to both men during the celebration of our 75th annual dinner at the Holiday Inn Chicago Mart Plaza, 350 N. Orleans, Friday evening, Oct. 17.

The timing of their deaths is somewhat ironic inasmuch as each year we present the Daniel Pearl Award in honor of the Wall Street Journal reporter murdered in Pakistan in 2002. He was the first American journalist beheaded by terrorists. Like Pearl, Sotloff was Jewish and had dual US-Israel citizenship. Coincidentally, this year’s 11th recipient is Wall Street Journal reporter Michael Phillips who covered the US ground wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reported 33 journalists have been killed this year. They all had a passion for their work and brought a voice. Like Foley and Sotloff, each lived their lives to the fullest and died too soon. Now, there are two more stars in the heavens.


Allen Rafalson, President