James Foley's parents: 'He was a martyr, a martyr for freedom'

Dylan Stableford, Yahoo News
Yahoo News

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist whose brutal execution by Islamist militants was posted to YouTube, gave an emotional press conference outside their New Hampshire home on Wednesday.

“The way he died was horrific," Foley's father, John, said. "It testifies to his courage. We believe he was a martyr, a martyr for freedom."

Foley, 40, had been freelancing for the GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse when he disappeared in Syria in November 2012.

“Jim felt the world needed to know about suffering,” his mother, Diane, said. “He felt compelled...

“How do you make sense of someone as good as Jim meeting such a fate?" she asked. "He wanted to cover what was happening at the human level."

The grieving parents told reporters in Rochester, N.H., that they had just spoken to President Barack Obama, who expressed his sympathy over the killing of their son.

In a press conference on Martha's Vineyard, Obama said he was “heartbroken” by the beheading of Foley at the hands of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

“Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world,” the president said. Obama said he had spoken to Foley’s parents and told them “we are all heartbroken at their loss and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.”

"We're very proud of him," Diane Foley said. "He was a courageous, fearless journalist, very compassionate American. I mean, the best of America.

"Jim was just innocent, and they knew it," she said of his ISIL captors. "They knew that Jim was just a symbol for our country."

At the end of the video, Foley's killer threatens to kill Steven Sotloff, another American freelance journalist being held hostage by the militant group.

"They never hurt anybody," John Foley said of the pair. "They were trying to help, and there's no reason for their slaughter."

Diane Foley said her 7-year-old granddaughter, Rori, told her this morning her heart was broken.

"That's the way we're all feeling," she said. "She said it all."

The Foleys said they never lost hope that their son would come home. His last words, they said, were: “I wish I had more time to see my family.”

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