Days after journalist James Foley was brutally beheaded on a video posted to YouTube by members of the terrorist group ISIS, his family is speaking out about the man’s “strength and love” even in the face of unspeakable suffering. The murdered man’s parents, John and Diane Foley, spoke to the media in interviews on Friday.
Looking visibly distraught, Foley’s parents said that before their son’s horrendous beheading, they had hopes the family could negotiate with the terrorists and earn his freedom. ISIS contacted the family via email on August 12, warning them that Foley would be executed, which was the first communication from the terrorists since December of 2013.
John and Diane Foley said this email left them hopeful that they may actually bring their son home safely. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and James Foley met the most unimaginable fate.
“The last time we heard from them was in December. We had received several emails but then they stopped communicating. So then we were just anxiously waiting. We had established a special email, hoping to engage them.”
However, despite the tragedy of James Foley’s beheading, his family is promising his legacy will live on. With incredible strength of their own, his parents said, “Jim’s strength and love was the answer to prayer… Jim will live on.”
Diane Foley told Morning Joe‘s co-hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski early Friday:
“Jim’s courage and particularly his compassion and love in that box, which they called it, was an answer to prayer. We had so many people praying for Jimmy. We had begged for prayer, but we didn’t need to.”
Mrs. Foley’s expression spoke of the deepest grief, and she was clearly struggling to keep her composure at times. However, it was also clear that James Foley’s parents wanted to talk about how their son lived and those he touched. According to French reporter Didier Francois, who spent time with Foley while held hostage by ISIS, the journalist was subjected to particularly brutal treatment because he was an American and that his brother was in the military and had served in Afghanistan.
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Francois said that James Foley was subjected to regular beatings and psychological torture with mock executions prior to his execution. Despite this, Foley never cracked and was brave until the very end, when the British man dressed in black, who the world saw decapitating Foley, ended the brave man’s life in the most barbaric fashion.
James Foley’s parents said it was hard for them to understand why their son wanted to go back to such a dangerous place and put his life in danger after a visit in 2012:
“We found it difficult to understand as parents. He was home in October of 2012 for his birthday and he just looked so good and I said ‘Jim, just stay home till Christmas.'”
“And he says, ‘Oh, ma, I have to go back, but I will be home for Christmas.'”
“He was just so committed to the problems….he wanted to humanize the problems, particularly the children. He raised money for an ambulance as people were being taken to the hospital in a wheelbarrow.”
“The more he saw of the suffering, the more his heart seemed to grow.”
As they go through the grieving process, which is unthinkable to most Americans, James Foley’s parents beg the terrorists for mercy with the other hostages, including reporter Steve Sotlof, who they have threatened to kill next if the U.S. bombing campaign against ISIS doesn’t come to an end.
James Foley’s parents also spoke about David Rohde’s Reuters essay, in which he questioned U.S. policy of not negotiating with terrorists. The Foleys said they would speak on this in the future. The family was raising money to earn the journalist’s freedom up until they heard about his murder.
“Certainly we feel that the negotiating process was very uneven and we pray at this very moment that Steven Sotlof is spared.”
James Foley, 40, went missing in November of 2012 in northern Syria, and was not seen or heard from until the ISIS video surfaced on Tuesday, August 19, showing a terrorist, with a British accent beheading him in cold blood. James Foley’s parents had been allowed to send three personal questions only their son knew the answers to, that was the last contact they had with him.
[Image via Morning Joe]