"He would have gone first, that is who he is": Brave parents of James Foley match their son for dignity and courage
- Parents of James Foley speak for an hour to offer tributes to their son
- John and Diane Foley believe their son saved the life of fellow hostage, Seven Sotloff
- The Foleys have five children and James, 40, was the eldest
- Displaying rare dignity and courage the Foleys heaped praise on James
- Spoke to President Obama before they faced the media
- A visibly angry Obama said that the world was shocked by ISIS
- Photojournalist James Wright Foley beheaded by ISIS forces on Tuesday
- Went missing in Syria in 2012 while working for GlobalPost news agency
- ISIS posted extremely graphic video 'A Message to America' online
They lost their eldest son in the most barbaric manner just yesterday, but in an inspiring display of dignity and bravery, the parents of James Foley spoke to the media outside their home on Wednesday to pay tribute to him.
While their son's cowardly killer hid his face from the camera, John and Diane Foley fought back their tears and even managed to laugh and joke while they remembered their 40-year-old son, who was so brutally butchered on Tuesday.
And as they matched their indomitable son for heroism, his father John said he was certain his boy would have courageously offered to be executed first to save his colleague and fellow hostage Steven Joel Sotloff.
Displaying remarkable grace, John said that his son, "was a martyr for freedom. His brother Michael and I are both sure he volunteered to go first."
Scroll Down for Video of Family
|Dignified: Diane and John Foley talk to reporters after the death of their son, James Foley at the hands of ISIS|
|Speaking through their tears: John and Diane Foley talk to reporters after speaking with US President Barack Obama on Wednesday, August 20, outside their home in Rochester, New Hampshire|
"I am sure he wouldn't shrink from the situation and said someone has got to go first. That is who he was."
'He met the most horrific end and it haunts me how much pain he must have been in and how cruel this method of execution is as opposed to so many others.
"He was courageous to the end and he accepted his situation and he gathered his faith."
The dignity of the Foleys, who have been campaigning for their sons release since he was kidnapped in Syria on Thanksgiving, 2012, shone through during the hour they spent with reporters.
"We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person," Diane Foley said.
The weight of grief became too much for John Foley at one point as he recalled his son's last words; how he wished he could have had more time with his loved ones.
He broke down in tears and then stopped to compose himself before beaming with pride at his son.
"We're very proud of Jim," said the Foleys, who have four other children. "He was a courageous, fearless journalist. A very compassionate American."
Watch Video Here
|Courageous: John and Diane Foley, parents of journalist James Foley, speak outside their home in Rochester and remember their son who was killed after being held hostage for almost two years|
Speaking under bright sunshine outside their New Hampshire home, the Foleys revealed they had just come off the phone with President Obama who called them from his vacation on Martha's Vineyard.
Indeed, while the Foleys spoke the president made a sombre public announcement and denounced the journalist's beheading as 'an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the whole world".
The president's anger was palpable and he turned it on ISIS, who have waged a campaign of chaos across Syria and Iraq which has intensified in the past three months.
'No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day,' he said.
"ISIS speaks for no religion," he said, aiming his words at the Islamist faction that claims to have established a Muslim caliphate in portions of Syria and Iraq. "Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents."
Foley stood "in stark contrast" to his captors and executioners, he said, blaming them for a series of "cowardly acts of violence."
CENTURY.TODD KAZAKIEWICH, WCVB NEWSCENTER5. AND NEWSCENTER5 LEARNED TODAY THAT FOLEY'S EMPLOYER THE GLOBAL POST RECEIVED AN E-MAIL FROM ISIS THREATENING HIS EXECUTION JUST LAST WEEK. JANET WU CONTINUES OUR COVER EDGE AND SPOKE WITH THE NEWSPAPER'S PRESIDENT TODAY AND SHE IS LIVE IN BOSTON. FOR NEARLY TWO YEARS THE GLOBAL POST HAS BEEN DESPERATELY SEARCHING FOR AND TRYING TO GAIN THE RELEASE OF THEIR REPORTER JIM FOLEY AS WAS HIS FAMILY. HE HAD BEEN KIDNAPPED IN 2011 AND RELEASED 45 DAYS LATER. THE PRESIDENT WAS ALWAYS HOPEFUL THAT HE WOULD SOME DAY WRAP HIS ARMS AGAIN AROUND THE FUNNY BUT INTENTLY DEDICATED JIM FOLEY. AND THEN THE FINAL COMMUNICATION FROM THE CAPTORS TO THE FOLEY FAMILY, A MESSAGE THAT WAS FULL OF RAGE. WE REC RECEIVED AN E-MAIL FROM THE CAPTORS ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT OF LAST WEEK STATING THEIR INTENTION TO EXECUTE JIM. AND WHAT DID YOU DO AT THAT POINT? WELL, WE DID A LOT OF THINGS, BUT WE RESPONDED TO THEM MOST IMPORTANTLY. AND WAS THERE A NEGOTIATION THAT WENT ON? THERE WAS NO NEGOTIATION. BALBONI SAID EVEN THEN HE WAS STILL HOPEFUL AND HAD TO BELIEVE IT WAS A BLUFF. HE SAID THEY BLEED FOR MERCY BUT
|At work: James Wright Foley, had been missing since November 2012, after being taken hostage at gunpoint by militants from the pre-ISIS group Jabhat al Nusra while reporting from Taftanaz, northern Syria|
|Sombre occasion: President Barack Obama speaks about the killing of journalist James Foley in Syria on Wednesday having broken away from his vacation in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts|
|Difficult speech: President Barack Obama arrives to speak in Edgartown, on Wednesday about the killing of American journalist James Foley|
|Stoic: Diane and John Foley talked to reporters for almost an hour about their son James, who was butchered by ISIS terrorists on Tuesday|
Back in New Hampshire, answering the most difficult of questions, Diane Foley admitted that the family has not watched the gruesome video of their son's execution.
She said they found out about its existence in a call from the Associated Press looking for her reaction to the atrocity.
'I had been avoiding her for days because she knew something was happening. She was in tears.
"But basically we found out the way everyone else did. We knew it was Jim, we didn't watch the video."
Talking about their son's death, Diane said that they are praying to God for help.
"Jim would never want us to hate or be bitter. We’re praying for the strength to love like he did."
Even though Pope Francis is due to call the family soon, husband John said he agreed with their family priest, the Rev Paul Grousse, who said he could not make sense of something insane.
"This particular group,' he said regarding ISIS 'has cut a path through Iraq and Syria of terrible suffering that is not part of our human nature."
'There is no reason for this slaughter,' Diane Foley said. 'Jim was just a symbol for our country. Jim was there to hear the truth and bear witness to the love and suffering...and they knew that,' she said about his ISIS murderers.
"Jim had a big heart and that is what we shared with President Obama. We just pray that Jim's death can bring our country together in a stronger way."
During the two years of campaigning for his release, Diane Foley said the family had learned from released hostages that their son had been a leader of the captives.
'In their suffering he was helping the other prisoners. There were a couple of much younger people in the cell and we were told he would just hold them.
"We continue to feel weak but when we think of what Jim did we feel strong."
|Bravery: John and Diane Foley told the press that their son was the best of America and that they hope his death will bring people together across the nation|
|Tragedy: James Wright Foley has been missing since Thanksgiving, 2012 and was beheaded by ISIS forces in a recorded message to President Obama on Tuesday|
The barbaric footage emerged on Tuesday of Foley's execution in a video title, "A Message to the US", in which Foley, 40, was coerced into denouncing his country in a pre-prepared script given to him by his brutal killers.
"We thank God for the gift of Jim. We are so, so proud of him," his mother Diane Foley said in front of the gathered cameras on a sunny day in New Hampshire.
"So many people were praying for Jim," she said, and hoped that his sacrifice brings the country together.
Diane said her son was loved by everyday Syrians. 'He ate with them, he lived with them. He had this way of getting people to tell their story - how he did it I don't know, he didn't speak a word of Arabic.
"One of the videos we have of him is teaching Syrian people how to take video on their cellphones."
'He was putting himself out of a job,' added her husband.
|Desperate: Friends and family of journalist James Foley, listen as his parents John and Diane Foley, give emotional comments to the media in the aftermath of his death on Tuesday|
|Grief: Friends and family of James Foley's parents listen as they eulogize their son to the media on Wednesday outside their home in New Hampshire|
|Respect: A ribbon is seen on the front door of the family home of freelance journalist James Foley, Wednesday, August 20, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire|
A proud John Foley said that his son was powered to report on the 'suffering of the children' in his dispatches from Syria.
'He was a courageous, fearless journalist. The best of America,' both the Foleys said during their time with the media.
In a direct message to their sons killers, the Foleys pleaded to ISIS to release the other hostages being held, such as Steven Joel Sotloff.
Asked what he thought of his brother's decision to return to another war zone after having already been kidnapped in Libya in 2011, Michael Foley only had admiration.
"There was a lot of value in what he was doing,' said James Foley's younger brother.
Backing his sons up, John Foley said that James was 'not crazy' to return and 'was motivated by doing the right thing."
However, Jane Foley did admit that some of her family thought James was "mad' to travel to Syria.
Ultimately, the Foley's are taking solace in knowing that their sons suffering is now over and that they now know 'he is in God's hands."
"We miss his joy and his love but he is free now in Heaven."
Earlier, John and Diane called on ISIS militants to spare the lives of other captured hostages as the authenticity of the barbaric video of his death was confirmed by the White House on Wednesday morning.
In the disgusting footage, Foley brands the US government his real killers and denounces the country of his birth, while his soon-to-be murderer stands over him dressed in black robes and armed with a small knife and gun.
Wearing an orange jumpsuit, with his head shaven, Foley's voice is strong, but he often pauses to take deep breaths and appears to struggle at times to swallow as he battles against fear.
The executioner, who speaks directly to the camera in what appears to be a British accent, then blames President Barack Obama for Foley's death before he brutally beheads the brave reporter in front of the camera.
In a chilling warning at the end of the grisly film, the executioner parades another American journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, who went missing in August 2013, saying: "The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision."
Speaking directly after the video emerged, Foley's mother Diane issued a statement saying that she and her husband John have nothing but admiration for the bravery of their "extraordinary" son, who they say gave his life to expose the suffering of the Syrian people.
|Beheaded: James Wright Foley in a grab taken from YouTube and posted online by ISIS|
|Terror: Photojournalist James Wright Foley spoke before his beheading to say ''I call on my friends, family members and loved ones to rise up against my real killers, the U.S. government.'|
|Threat: A masked Islamic State militant speaks next to a man purported to be US journalist Steven Sotloff at an unknown location in this still image from an undated video posted on a social media website|
Foley, had been missing since November 2012, after being taken hostage at gunpoint by militants from the group Jabhat al Nusra while reporting from Taftanaz, northern Syria, for the GlobalPost.
In a statement posted on the Free James Foley Facebook page last night, Diane Foley wrote that she and husband John "have never been prouder of our son Jim".
Mrs Foley wrote that her son spent his life fighting to expose the suffering of the Syrian people, and pleaded with ISIS to release remaining hostages.
Foley was one of 20 journalists currently missing in Syria, according to the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists.
Many of them are thought likely to have passed into ISIS' hands either because the kidnappers have subsequently sworn allegiance to group's self-declared caliphate, or because they were sold on.
'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,' Mrs Foley's statement read.
"We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person," she added.
"FRIENDLY, COURAGEOUS AND IMPATIENT": REMEMBERING JAMES WRIGHT FOLEY
|Remembered: James Foley, reporting from Syria in 2012 before his disappearance|
The friends of photojournalist James Foley are mourning his loss online, following the 40-year-old's execution by ISIS terrorists.
Foley, from Rochester, New Hampshire, was a seasoned reporter who went missing two years ago while covering the Syrian conflict.
'James Foley was a generous colleague & friend. We had beers in Antakya a week before he was taken. We talked about marriage/kids,' Buzzfeed's Middle East correspondent Sheera Frenkel tweeted.
Following a video posted online showing Foley's graphic beheading, his former employer GlobalPost issued a statement.
'On behalf of John and Diane Foley, and also GlobalPost, we deeply appreciate all of the messages of sympathy and support that have poured in since the news of Jim's possible execution first broke,' Philip Balboni, GlobalPost CEO and co-founder, said.
Mother Diane Foley talked about her son in a January 2013 interview with a local television station and said her son was "passionate about covering the story in Syria, passionate about the people there."
He is the oldest of five children.
According to a bio on the website Free James Foley, the journalist had traveled extensively in the Middle East and North Africa on assignment and had covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
Prior to becoming a journalist, Foley helped 'empower disadvantaged individuals as a teacher and mentor, assisting them in improving their lives,' the website says.
He had been previously held captive while covering the uprising in Libya, and was released by Gaddafi's forces after six weeks.
Foley spoke about the 44 days of captivity in a video for the Boston Globe in May 2011.
'You don’t want to be defined as that guy who got captured in 2011,' he said. 'I believe that front-line journalism is important."
Journalist Clare Morgana Gillis was also held captive with Foley in Libya, and wrote a 2013 essay in which she said captivity was 'the state most violently opposite [Foley's] nature."
She also described him as gentle, friendly, courageous and impatient with "anything that slows his forward momentum".
A May article in Vanity Fair about the dangers for journalists in Syria described Foley as "affable" and devil-may-care".
At the time of his disappearance, Foley was working as a freelancer for Agence France-Presse's Global Post, but he previously contributed to Stars and Stripes and other outlets.
Earlier article with VIDEO/Pics: