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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

James Foley Remembered For His ‘Extraordinary Courage’

American freelance journalist James Foley is pictured in November 2012 while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. (Nicole Tung/freejamesfoley.org via AP)

American freelance journalist James Foley is pictured in November 2012 while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. (Nicole Tung/freejamesfoley.org via AP)

U.S. officials have confirmed the authenticity of a grisly video showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley, by the Sunni militant group the Islamic State, also called ISIS or ISIL. Foley, 40, went missing in northern Syria in November 2012 while freelancing for Boston-based GlobalPost and Agence France-Press (AFP).

Philip Balboni, CEO of GlobalPost, talked to Here & Now’s Jeremy Hobson about Foley’s work, and the video.

Interview Highlights: Philip Balboni

Have you seen the video?

“Unfortunately I have. And it’s as horrible as anything could possibly be. To anyone who’s listening to your program, I urge them not to look at it. I don’t think it does anything but further the Islamic State’s propaganda goals.

“What I can say is that having watched it, that Jim Foley’s courage, his bravery in putting himself into harm’s way in three countries now — Afghanistan, Libya and Syria — came through right to the end. He never flinched. He faced his death with extraordinary courage. I’m in awe of this man.”

Tell us more about the work that he did for GlobalPost

“He was both a print and video reporter. Jim was good in both. I think he had a particular love of photography and video, and did a lot of that, did some extraordinary reporting for us from the front lines. He loved to tell the stories of the people of these countries. He became deeply involved in the conflict that he was covering, to the degree that it imposed suffering on people there. I know that’s what drew him back to Syria, that he could see that this was an extraordinary story of people rising up against a repression. Of course, you know the war in Syria has moved on to a whole different stage, and I think this speaks to where we are now, to why Jim came to this horrific end and to what we need to do as a country, what our government needs to do to combat the spread of this militant, really evil force that has expanded too far.”

It also speaks to what a dangerous world it has become for journalists in war zones

“Indeed. I mean, it’s difficult to keep up with, and one thing that I hope that people can take away from this is that — you know, it’s not egotism, it’s not anything but a genuine, passionate desire to be out there and telling stories. At least that’s what Jim represented. And you know, I think his courage is a shining example to journalists everywhere, both those who are conflict reporters and to others who remain behind on whatever home front, is that what we do is important and that there’s great danger in the world and it needs to be addressed.”

Guest

  • Philip Balboni, CEO of GlobalPost. James Foley was on a freelance assignment for GlobalPost when he was abducted in Syria, in November 2012.

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Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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