James Foley: A photojournalist who was 'drawn to conflict to expose untold stories'

The journalist went missing in 2012 while reporting on the civil war in Syria

Wednesday 20 August 2014 14:43

James Foley, the missing American journalist Islamic militants claim to have beheaded, was abducted in Syria in 2012.

He was on an assignment in the war-torn country for Agence France-Press (AFP) and the US media company GlobalPost reporting on the bloody struggle against the Assad regime.

The photojournalist has not been seen since his car was stopped by militants as he travelled through northern Syria in November 2012.

The 40-year-old freelancer from Rochester, New Hampshire, is one of an estimated 20 journalists missing in Syria and was believed to be a captive, according to the US Committee to Protect Journalists.

He was previously imprisoned by the government in Libya alongside a small group of other journalists, but was released and given a one-year suspended sentence on charges of illegally entering the country.

In an interview with the Associated Press about that experience he said he “would love to go back” but recalled the tragedy of seeing a colleague killed in a gun battle.

The video shows James Foley being murdered by a British terrorist known as 'John'

He also spoke of a love of his profession.

“Journalism is journalism,” he 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.”

He told the BBC in a 2012 interview that he was “drawn to the drama of the conflict and trying to expose untold stories”.

He said: “There's extreme violence, but there's a will to find who these people really are. And I think that's what's really inspiring about it.”

Philip Balboni, chief executive of GlobalPost, paid tribute to his employee and thanked the public on behalf of Mr Foley's parents.

“On behalf of John and Diane Foley, and also GlobalPost, we deeply appreciate all of the messages of sympathy and support that have poured in since the news of Jim's possible execution first broke.

"We have been informed that the FBI is in the process of evaluating the video posted by the Islamic State to determine if it is authentic. We ask for your prayers for Jim and his family."

The beheading, if confirmed, will be the first time Isis fighters have killed an American since the conflict broke out in Syria in 2011.

The Sunni militant group has since spread into northern Iraq, killing scores of civilians and displacing hundreds of thousands of people in a violent rampage aimed at creating an Islamic caliphate.

A message posted on the Free James Foley Facebook page urged caution until the footage is fully investigated.

“We know that many of you are looking for confirmation or answers,” it said.

“Please be patient until we all have more information, and keep the Foleys in your thoughts and prayers.”

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