The reports are flooding in that journalist James Foley has been beheaded by the terrorists of the Islamic State. He had been kidnapped while on assignment in Syria several years ago.
If the reports, and video, released today are true, then this heinous act is meant to threaten the United States, and all people who recognize the dignity of human persons, into leaving ISIS unmolested as they perpetrate further crimes against humanity, and enslave populations under their particular brand of jihadist tyranny.
I doubt that this tactic will be effective.
I also believe that if Mr. Foley has indeed been killed, LORD have mercy on his soul, then he has joined the ranks of the Christian martyrs, as have all the Christians that ISIS has slain up to this point.
Back in 2011, see, while on assignment in Libya, Foley and a colleague had been imprisoned and held in a military detention center in Tripoli. He wrote of his imprisonment, and of the solace he found in praying the rosary during his incarceration there, in the Marquette alumni magazine.
Phone call home
A letter from James Foley, Arts ’96, to Marquette.
Marquette University has always been a friend to me. The kind who challenges you to do more and be better and ultimately shapes who you become.
With Marquette, I went on some volunteer trips to South Dakota and Mississippi and learned I was a sheltered kid and the world had real problems. I came to know young people who wanted to give their hearts for others. Later I volunteered in a Milwaukee junior high school up the street from the university and was inspired to become an inner-city teacher. But Marquette was perhaps never a bigger friend to me than when I was imprisoned as a journalist.
Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli. Each day brought increasing worry that our moms would begin to panic. My colleague, Clare, was supposed to call her mom on her birthday, which was the day after we were captured. I had still not fully admitted to myself that my mom knew what had happened. But I kept telling Clare my mom had a strong faith.
I prayed she’d know I was OK. I prayed I could communicate through some cosmic reach of the universe to her.
I began to pray the rosary. It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.
Clare and I prayed together out loud. It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone.
Later we were taken to another prison where the regime kept hundreds of political prisoners. I was quickly welcomed by the other prisoners and treated well.
One night, 18 days into our captivity, some guards brought me out of the cell. In the hall I saw Manu, another colleague, for the first time in a week. We were haggard but overjoyed to see each other. Upstairs in the warden’s office, a distinguished man in a suit stood and said, “We felt you might want to call your families.”
I said a final prayer and dialed the number. My mom answered the phone. “Mom, Mom, it’s me, Jim.”
“Jimmy, where are you?”
“I’m still in Libya, Mom. I’m sorry about this. So sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry, Jim,” she pleaded. “Oh, Daddy just left. Oh … He so wants to talk to you. How are you, Jim?” I told her I was being fed, that I was getting the best bed and being treated like a guest.
“Are they making you say these things, Jim?”
“No, the Libyans are beautiful people,” I told her. “I’ve been praying for you to know that I’m OK,” I said. “Haven’t you felt my prayers?”
Lord Jesus, Holy Son of the Father, have mercy on the soul of James Foley, and all of the departed faithful. Bring him, and all those martyred by ISIS, into the light of your Presence, Oh Lord. Comfort his family and friends as they mourn his loss, and remember the strength of his faith. Amen.
President Obama address the nation about the death of James Foley, and the evils of ISIS.
“The brutality of this act is itself evidence of an unspeakable evil that is rampant and inhuman. To the prayers that have been offered since his captivity almost two years ago, we now add our prayers for James’s eternal rest and, in Christ Jesus Our Lord, James’s future resurrection to eternal life.
“Our prayers also must accompany a sorrowful mother, a grieving father, a deeply pained family and countless friends who have kept vigil all this time. May we also pray for those who have embraced the way of darkness and death, that they may turn away from this terrible evil now and forever.”
–Most Reverend Peter A. Libasci, Bishop of Manchester
From Marquette University,
The Marquette community is deeply saddened by the death of alumnus and freelance journalist, James Foley, Arts ’96. We extend our heartfelt prayers and wishes for healing to James’ family and friends during this very difficult time.
James, who majored in history at Marquette, had a heart for social justice and used his immense talents to tell the difficult stories in the hopes that they might make a difference in the world – a measure of his character for which we could not be prouder.
Following his first capture in 2011, after he safely returned from Libya, James expressed in a letter to the Marquette community the power and strength he drew not only from his own prayer, but the prayers of his family and friends. As a community, we offer this prayer for peace.
Statement from Mr. Foley’s mother, Diane Foley:
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. 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.
The Anchoress on James Foley, Martyrdom and the Subversive Freedom of Prayer.
(H/T Catholic Vote)