Tuesday 23 January 2018

Family of murdered American hostage James Foley release touching letter he dictated to fellow captive

Employer of journalist decapitated by Isil also pays tribute to hostage’s ‘extraordinary courage’

James Foley was
James Foley was "Jim" to his family Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Rosa Prince

The family of the murdered American hostage James Foley has released the text of a letter he dictated to a fellow captive two months before he was killed.

In a post on Facebook, the Foley family said that the 40-year-old journalist had been unable to send them a written missive because all of his letters were confiscated by those holding him.

So he asked a fellow hostage who was due to be released to memorise a touching message to his family.

The freed captive, whose identity has not been revealed, then passed his dictated words on to his mother, Diane, in a telephone call to their home in New Hampshire in June.

His words highlight the extraordinary bravery of the hostage, who would go on to be beheaded by his captors. A video of his murder was released by the Isil terror group last week.

In his message, as remembered by his fellow hostage, Mr Foley included special words for a number of his family members.

He said: “I remember going to the Mall with Dad, a very long bike ride with Mom. I remember so many great family times that take me away from this prison. Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart.

“I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.”

Mr Foley went on to give details of his life in captivity, revealing that he shared his cell with 17 other hostages and passed the time by having long conversations and playing games. They also prepared lectures to educate each other, told stories and shared jokes.

Mr Foley said: “I have had weak and strong days. We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom.

“We try to encourage each other and share strength. We are being fed better now and daily. We have tea, occasional coffee. I have regained most of my weight lost last year.”

Mr Foley’s final words were for his grandmother, who he promised to take out when he got back. “Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life,” he said.

A memorial mass for Mr Foley was held in his hometown of Rochester on Sunday.

After the service, Philip Balboni, President of Mr Foley’s employer GlobalPost, sent a message to his staff saying that the mass had made him reflect on the journalist’s life and death.

“From the enormous outpouring of messages of support and compassion I have received from so many different people, I have come to realise how deeply Jim's death has moved this nation and indeed the world,” he said.

“Jim's horrific death may also change the course of Middle East history, as the United States seems to be moving closer to a full on assault on the Islamic State. Jim, of course, would have wanted only to be at home in the arms of his beloved family, laughing and playing with his three brothers and his sister and with their children. I am so sad that will never happen now.

“Jim's example of bravery, his devotion to reporting from the world's most difficult places, and his warm, caring spirit will live on forever and guide our future path.”


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