'It's not worth your life,' U.S. journalist James Foley once told students
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, August 20, 2014 11:26AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, August 20, 2014 9:44PM EDT
Taking risks to get the story “is not worth your life,” U.S. journalist James Foley, who was purportedly beheaded by Islamic militants, told journalism students three years before he was killed.
In a 2011 discussion at his alma mater, the Medill School of Journalism in Illinois, Foley spoke of his experiences reporting from conflict zones around the world. Indeed, the talk occurred not long after he was released from a six-week stint in a Libyan prison.
Foley says it was his brother, a soldier, who first inspired him to report from troubled parts of the world, saying he had a “romantic notion” about it. He also acknowledged that surviving these experiences comes down to “pure luck.”
But he also warned students against taking risks when reporting because of the toll it can take on themselves, and on others.
"It's not worth your life. It's not worth seeing your mother, father, brother and sister bawling. It's not worth these things,” Foley said.
"No matter what romantic ideal you have, no matter what ethic you think you have.
"I should have known that a long time ago."
Foley went missing in northern Syria in late 2012. Militants stormed the car in which he was riding through a region marred by violence between government forces and Sunni rebels. The 40-year-old was on assignment for Agence France-Press and GlobalPost.
He had not been heard from since, until a video purportedly showing his execution surfaced online late Tuesday.
U.S. intelligence officials told The Associated Press that militants with the Islamic State for Iraq and Syria had recently threatened to kill Foley in retaliation for airstrikes against militants in northern Iraq. U.S. military airstrikes have hit dozens of Islamic State targets in the area since Aug. 8.
GlobalPost issued a statement Wednesday morning to say that although FBI officials are awaiting a thorough analysis to determine the video’s authenticity, “preliminary analysis has shown no reason to believe the video is not real.”
Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, issued a brief statement on Facebook Tuesday night:
“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,” she wrote.
“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.”