Beheaded hostage’s mother condemns politician’s photo stunt

Paris, December 17

The mother of James Foley, the American hostage beheaded on camera by Islamic State last year, said today she was angry at French far-right politician Marine Le Pen for posting a graphic photo depicting the act on social media.

The leader of the anti-immigration National Front (FN), which won almost a third of the votes in regional elections this month but is shunned as extremist by mainstream politicians, posted the photo on her Twitter account along with two others.

She did it to object to views voiced by an author, who said there were similarities between her party and Islamic State. “This is #Daesh,” she said in the posting, using the pejorative Arabic term for the jihadist group that controls swathes of Syria and Iraq and is being bombed by Western forces.

Among the photos was the beheaded corpse of a man in a prisoner-style orange tracksuit with his severed head placed on his chest.

“We are offended that that awful image of our son’s brutal murder be used publicly,” Diana Foley said in an interview on Europe 1 radio. “To tweet it again just continues to promote their propaganda - the horrible way they recruit others who want to be brutal. I certainly do not want that to continue.”

Separately, in a joint statement with Foley’s father John tweeted by Nicolas Henin, a French journalist and former Islamic State captive, Diana Foley said: “We are deeply disturbed by the unsolicited use of Jim for Le Pen’s political gain and hope that the picture of our son, along with two other graphic photographs, are taken down immediately.”

The beheading picture had vanished from Le Pen’s Twitter account today, but two others - one showing a prisoner being burnt alive and the other a tank driving over another man in an orange tracksuit - were still there.

Le Pen told journalists she did not know one of the pictures was of Foley, adding that she removed it after the family asked her to do so. She did not say why she left the other two graphic pictures on her Twitter account.

Le Pen’s tweet was a response to a comment from Gilles Kepel, an academic who this week published a book called “Terror in the Hexagon (France)” about French-born jihadist militants.

In a radio interview, Kepel said that although Islamic State and the National Front were very different, there were similarities because of their politics of exclusion.

Le Pen has strived for years to make her anti-Europe, anti-immigrant party more mainstream. Seeking to soften the party’s image, she usually avoids the type of provocative acts that her maverick father, FN founder Jean-Marie, relishes.