Obama to speak on death of American journalist
Posted: Aug 20, 2014 4:51 AM CST Updated: Aug 20, 2014 8:09 AM CST
ROCHESTER, N.H. (AP) - President Barack Obama is expected to make a statement today about the beheading of American journalist James Foley by militants with the Islamic State extremist group.
Foley was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012. The militants said his killing is in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. Islamic State is also threatening to kill American journalist Steven Sotloff, who was kidnapped near the Syrian-Turkish border in August 2013.
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, worked in a number of conflict zones in the Middle East, including Syria, Libya and Iraq. He 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."
He 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.
New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan released a statement on the tragic death: "A talented and fearless photojournalist, James Foley brought us images that connected us to events across the globe, illuminating stories of both heartache and hope and helping us better understand the world we all share. The appalling actions of ISIS are a crime against humanity and the values that we all hold dear. I join all Granite Staters and people around the world in mourning the tragic loss of James Foley, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and loved ones."
Senator Jeanne Shaheen also released a statement on the journalist's murder: “James Foley was a respected and accomplished journalist who devoted his life to one of our most important freedoms - the freedom of press. Everyone who knew him recognized his dedication to his work and his commitment to sharing his eye-witness reporting of world events. His murder was a cowardly act of terrorism and underscores the threat that ISIL poses to the freedoms we hold dear. My thoughts are with the Foley family and everyone who knew and loved James, both in New Hampshire and around the world.”
Senator Kelly Ayotte sent out a message via Twitter: “Our hearts are broken for the Foley family. James Foley was an innocent civilian who was bravely performing his job as a journalist. This barbaric and heinous act shocks the conscience and highlights the truly evil nature of the terrorists we confront, who must be defeated. My thoughts and prayers are with James Foley's family at this extremely difficult time”
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."