In a report aired on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Keir Simmons spoke with Islamic extremists in Britain acting as apologists for the ISIS terrorists who brutally murdered journalist James Foley. A soundbite played of one man ranting: "The question to ask is, who's really to blame for the death of James Foley? I believe it is the foreign policy of Obama."
Following the taped story, Simmons added: "It is so sickening, so disturbing to hear a group like that exercise their First Amendment rights...by saying things like that. But I said to them directly, 'You do not even represent a fraction of Muslims around the world.'" [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In reality, millions of Muslims in the Middle East do subscribe to the notion that American foreign policy is the true cause of terrorist attacks against the United States and even justifies such acts.
In fact, some in the media agree. As NewsBusters' Tim Graham earlier reported, on Sunday NPR touted Huffington Post U.K. director Medhi Hasan arguing: "Islamic State is a product of a western foreign-policy vision which was the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They didn't exist until a year after the invasion in 2004. So we have to look at some of our big foreign-policy decisions which have contributed to this mess that we're now having to deal with."
Here is a full transcript of the August 25 segment on Today:
7:12 AM ET
MATT LAUER: Now want to turn to the unexpected release of an American journalist being held by an Al Qaeda-linked group in Syria. The move coming just days after the murder of another American hostage, James Foley, at the hand of ISIS militants. NBC's Keir Simmons has the latest on this. Keir, good morning to you.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Journalist Released By Militants; Hostage Freed; Officials Close In On Foley Killer)
KEIR SIMMONS: Matt, good morning. Some good news at last, that American captive freed Sunday by the Syrian extremist group Jabhat al-Nusra. He's expected to be reunited with his family shortly. But meanwhile, there is a desperate race to try and help those American and other western hostages held by ISIS.
PETER CURTIS: My name is Peter Theo Curtis.
SIMMONS: Free after a terrifying ordeal, American writer Peter Curtis unexpectedly released after two years as a hostage. He'd been held by Al Qaeda-affiliated jihadists in Syria. ISIS are an even more ruthless group. It's feared they are holding twenty westerners, including American Steven Sotloff.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: This is James Wright Foley.
SIMMONS: But U.S. and British intelligence are closing in. The man with a British accent in the gruesome video of James Foley's death has been identified U.K. security sources tell NBC News.
DUNCAN GARDHAM [SECURITY JOURNALIST]: They've applied some voice analysis to it. They have done some facial recognition stuff, which they can do even when someone's masked.
SIMMONS: But two different knives are apparently visible on the tape, suggesting more than one killer. And there is the question, who filmed James Foley's murder?
And why do a small minority of westerners support ISIS? There are an estimated seventy American recruits. This weekend I met with British extremists prepared to defend ISIS.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN B: There are a lot of people who would feel that the Islamic state does have a duty to protect themselves and defend against America.
SIMMONS: But killing a journalist isn't protecting yourself.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN C: The question to ask is, who's really to blame for the death of James Foley? I believe it is the foreign policy of Obama.
SIMMONS: It's the man who put that knife in his neck, surely.
MAN C: Well, the thing is you've got to ask is, why was this particular man chosen? It seems like he was chosen because he was an American citizen.
SIMMONS: It is so sickening, so disturbing to hear a group like that exercise their First Amendment rights, Tamron, by saying things like that. But I said to them directly, "You do not even represent a fraction of Muslims around the world." Tamron.
TAMRON HALL: Alright, Keir Simmons. Thank you so much.