Family: Foley gave life to expose suffering of Syrian people

World Today

James Foley FILE – This undated file still image from video released April 7, 2011, by GlobalPost, shows James Foley of Rochester, N.H., a freelance contributor for GlobalPost, in Benghazi, Libya. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP Photo/GlobalPost, File)

Journalist James Foley had worked in a number of conflict zones in the Middle East, but the danger didn’t stop him from doing the job he loved.

Captured and held for six weeks while covering the uprising in Libya, he knew the risks when he went to Syria two years ago to cover the escalating violence there.

Foley was snatched again in Syria in November 2012 when the car he was riding in was stopped by four militants in a battle zone that Sunni rebel fighters and government forces were trying to control.

On Tuesday, two U.S. officials said they believe Foley was the person executed by Islamic State militants in a video posted online. The officials spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the video by name.

Family: Foley gave life to expose suffering of Syrian people

President Barack Obama says the entire world is "appalled" by Foley's killing. The president says he spoke Wednesday with Foley's family and offered condolences.

For more on this tragic story and what it means for journalists around the world, CCTV America’s Mike Walter interviews Courtney Radsch, Advocacy Director for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Follow the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) on Twitter@pressfreedom

What can be done to protect journalists?

To discuss journalist James Foley's tragic story and what it means for journalists around the world, CCTV America's Mike Walter interviews Courtney Radsch, Advocacy Director for the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Foley’s family confirmed his death on a webpage created to rally support for him. His mother, Diane Foley, said in a statement on the webpage he “gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.”

At Foley’s family home in Rochester, a light burned yellow in a center upstairs window and a yellow ribbon adorned a tree at the foot of the driveway. The Rev. Paul Gousse, of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, where the Foleys are parishioners, spent about 45 minutes at the house but left without commenting.

Foley, 40, and another journalist were working in the northern province of Idlib in Syria when they were kidnapped near the village of Taftanaz.

After Foley disappeared, while contributing video for Agence France-Presse and the media company GlobalPost, his parents became fierce advocates for him and all those kidnapped in war zones. They held regular prayer vigils and worked with the U.S. and Syrian diplomatic corps to get whatever scraps of information they could.

Diane Foley, asked in January 2013 if her son had reservations about going to Syria, said softly: “Not enough.”

She wrote Tuesday on the family’s webpage, “We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person.”

Media rights group Reporters Without Borders condemned on Tuesday the purported beheading of United States journalist James Foley by Islamic State insurgents.

The posting of the video followed nearly two weeks of U.S. air strikes that have pounded militant positions and halted the advance of Islamic State.

The video, titled “A Message To America,” also contains images of another U.S. journalist whose life they said depended on how the U.S. acts in Iraq.

RSF Secretary General Christophe Deloire told Reuters Television journalists were being used as “weapons”.

“It’s terrible to observe that James Foley after 38 journalists have been killed in the course of his job in Syria, but this killing is the worst of all killings of journalists in Syria because the fact that he has been beheaded. This video which all that scene set up to try to intimidate the rest of the world and especially the U.S. government it’s terrible to see that journalists who went there on the field only to report as used as weapons but they are killed for a terrible blackmail,” he said.

Foley had seen the dangers to journalists up close.

Upon his release from Libya and return to the United States, he recalled in an interview with The Associated Press seeing a colleague, South African photographer Anton Hammerl, killed by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. He tried to pull his friend’s body out of harm’s way but was turned back by heavy fire.

“I’ll regret that day for the rest of my life. I’ll regret what happened to Anton,” Foley said. “I will constantly analyze that.”

Foley also covered the war in Afghanistan but called the Libyan fighting the worst he had ever experienced to that point.

Foley grew up in New Hampshire and studied history at Marquette University. He later taught in Arizona, Massachusetts and Chicago before switching careers to become a journalist, which he viewed as a calling.

“Journalism is journalism,” Foley said. “If I had a choice to do Nashua (New Hampshire) zoning meetings or give up journalism, I’ll do it. I love writing and reporting.”

Report compiled with information from The Associated Press and Reuters.