In 2011, James Foley, the journalist who was beheaded by the Islamic State terrorists, spoke at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism about his time in Libya. In April of that year, he and three other reporters were held captive in Libya for 44 days.
Speaking specifically about the moment when Libyan forces opened fire on the reporters, Foley said,
“As any soldier, or reporter, who’s been under direct fire knows the body reacts much before the mind can process what is actually happening. The mind will even present the illusion of safety, but the ‘fight or flight’ instincts are in control.”
He described being thrown in the back of a pickup truck, blindfolded with his hands tied for hours, before being put in prison. He recalled thinking the first morning he woke up in jail that “the worst thing in the world just happened. The worst possible thing.” he said. “Anton [one of the other journalists] is most likely dead, we’re captured, and nobody knows where we are.”
“We were beaten once, tortured never,” he said about their treatment by the captors. “There’s some humanity in these guards. The system is inhumane, but the humanity is in these people.”
In November 2012, Foley was abducted while reporting for GlobalPost and other agencies in northern Syria. Tuesday, Islamic State members released a video of his execution as a response to recent American airstrikes.
His parents released a statement yesterday saying in part,
“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 … He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person.”
President Obama said that “the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group ISIL.”
“The United States of America will continue to do what we must to do to protect our people,” the president said. “We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans anywhere, we will do what’s necessary to see that justice is done and we act against ISIL, standing alongside others.”
Watch Foley’s entire interview.