Beheaded US Journalist 'Drawn Back to' Conflict

James Foley's mother begs ISIS to free other hostages

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 20, 2014 4:11 AM CDT | Updated Aug 20, 2014 7:55 AM CDT

(Newser) – The mother of the American journalist beheaded by ISIS has urged the militant group to free other Americans it has threatened to kill. "We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people," Diane Foley writes in a post at the Free James Foley Facebook group. "We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages," she writes. "Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria, or anywhere in the world."

American officials have confirmed that a video released by the militants shows the execution of Foley, who was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012, WCVB reports. Meanwhile, media outlets are offering some details on his background:

  • The 40-year-old native of Rochester, NH, worked for AFP and GlobalPost; the latter says it mounted a huge investigation and "amassed an enormous amount of information that has not been made public" after his disappearance. His early career was as a teacher all over the US, the BBC reports.
  • His brother was an Air Force officer in Iraq, where Foley "embedded himself" with troops, the BBC notes. Afterward, he headed to Libya in 2011. "The idea with the Libyan revolution is, it's journalists embedding with rebels, and that's essentially what we did," he said. There, he was detained after an ambush by Moammar Gadhafi's fighters. A colleague was killed, but Foley was released after six weeks.
  • "Feeling like you've survived something—it's a strange sort of force that you are drawn back to," he said—and indeed, despite the Libyan incident, he next traveled to Syria, where he wanted "to expose untold stories," the BBC reports. There, he was stopped by militants while driving through a contested area, the AP notes. He had been working with another journalist in Idlib, a province in northern Syria.
In the ISIS video, another person, believed to be missing American journalist Steven James Sotloff, is shown, and the militant who beheaded Foley warns that his life depends on President Obama's next decision, reports Reuters. Twitter has since taken down the images, notes CNN, and Foley's friends and family have started a campaign urging people not to view or share the video.

A frame grab from a video released by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of journalist James Foley by the militant group.
A frame grab from a video released by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of journalist James Foley by the militant group.   (AP Photo)
In this Friday, May 27, 2011, file photo, journalist James Foley responds to questions during an interview with The Associated Press in Boston.
In this Friday, May 27, 2011, file photo, journalist James Foley responds to questions during an interview with The Associated Press in Boston.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
A ribbon is tied to a tree outside the home of American freelance journalist James Foley in Rochester, New Hampshire.
A ribbon is tied to a tree outside the home of American freelance journalist James Foley in Rochester, New Hampshire.   (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
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