Slain reporter’s mother worries about Syria pullout impact

November 5, 2019 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — The mother of a journalist who was beheaded by the Islamic State in Syria said Monday she’s concerned that the U.S. withdrawal from northern Syria will make it more difficult to secure American remains and have access to evidence of that group’s crimes.

In a conversation with the Committee to Protect Journalists organization, Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, said when troops were in the area, they were able to talk to locals and get information about where possible grave sites might be.

Now, she said, “we won’t have access, so it really decreases our ability to have the remains of our citizens returned and for evidence of the human atrocities that have occurred.”


James Foley, 40, was beheaded in August 2014 after being kidnapped in 2012, and the video of it posted online.

Since her son’s death, Diane Foley created a foundation in his name that advocates for attention on Americans who have been detained and pushed the U.S. government to change processes around hostage rescue.

On Monday, she reiterated her call for two British militants currently in U.S. custody to face criminal charges for their involvement in the Islamic State cell that was responsible for her son’s death.

She also spoke of the need for Americans to pay more attention to the plight of U.S. citizens who have been detained or kidnapped, like journalists and businesspeople working abroad.

“Getting our citizens out is not easy,” she said.

Asked about the U.S. military operation that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, Foley said she applauded “the bravery and amazing execution, flawless execution really, of that military operation.”

But she said his decision to blow himself up “does make it difficult” to collect more evidence. “We lose the chance to know details. ... I fear the destruction and his death does destroy a lot of evidence.”

She hoped his death and loss of leadership would blunt some of the Islamic State’s resurgence, “but to be honest I doubt that it will completely,” she said.