As American officials work to confirm the authenticity of a video showing James Foley being beheaded by the Islamic State militant group, the American photojournalist’s mother released a statement on Facebook saying “we have never been prouder of our son Jim.”
Foley went missing in November 2012 while covering the civil war in Syria, marking the second time he was held captive in the Middle East, according to Fox News.
In 2011, while covering the war in Libya, Foley was held for six weeks by forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. After being released in Lybia, he was interviewed by Fox New host Bill O’Reilly and said the experience “kind of felt like a mind game.”
“Eventually, you figure it out,” Foley said. “I’ve just got to stick to my story; make sure I tell the absolute truth that I’m a journalist. That’s my only chance.”
ISIL claimed Foley was killed in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq, according to reports Tuesday.
Foley’s mother, Diane, posted a statement on Facebook:
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.
We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.
We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.
A second man is shown at the end of the gruesome ISIL video. According to Fox News, the man is American journalist Steven Sotloff — he was captured near the Syrian-Turkish border in August 2013.
The masked executioner who beheaded Foley said, in English, that “the life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”
The Washington Post reported that at least three other Americans are believed to be held captive in Syria.
President Obama was briefed on the video Tuesday night by Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes on Air Force One, according to Fox News. The president is expected to make a statement Wednesday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron posted a comment on Twitter: “If true, the murder of James Foley is shocking and depraved.”
Cameron’s office said the prime minister will cut short a family vacation and return to London for emergency meetings on Iraq and Syria, according to the Washington Post.
Obama has five days remaining of his own summer vacation.
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