James Wright Foley (October 18, 1973 – August 19, 2014) was an American journalist and video reporter. He was working as a freelance war correspondent during the Syrian Civil War when he was abducted on November 22, 2012 in northwestern Syria. In August 2014, Foley became the first American citizen to be killed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL / ISIS / Islamic State).
Before journalism, Foley was an instructor for Teach For America. In 2009, he became an embedded journalist with USAID-funded development projects in Iraq, and in 2011, he wrote for military newspaper Stars and Stripes in Afghanistan, and GlobalPost in Libya, where he was captured by Gaddafi loyalist forces and held for 44 days. When he was captured in Syria the following year, he was working for Agence France-Presse and GlobalPost.
Early life and education
Foley was a native of Rochester, New Hampshire, and attended Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire.He was the oldest of five children born to John and Diane Foley. He was a Catholic.
Foley graduated from Marquette University, a private, Jesuit Catholic institution, in 1996, from the MFA Program for Poets & Writersat the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2003, and from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism in 2008.
Foley began his career as a teacher in Arizona, Massachusetts, and Chicago for Teach For America (TFA). In the mid-2000s he changed careers to photojournalism. In 2009, Foley worked for USAID-funded development projects in Baghdad, Iraq. He helped organize conferences and training seminars for a program designed to rebuild Iraq’s civil service, crippled by decades of isolation and autocratic administration. In 2010 he left Iraq and applied for military embed-journalist accommodation status in Afghanistan to become a freelance journalist. He was an embedded journalist with US troops in Iraq, where his brother was serving as an officer in the United States Air Force. In January 2011, Foley joined Stars and Stripes as a reporter on assignment in Afghanistan. Two months later he was removed from his post after being detained by US military police at Kandahar Air Field on suspicion of possessing and using marijuana. On 3 March 2011, Foley admitted that he had marijuana in his possession and resigned his position.
In 2011, while working for GlobalPost, Foley went to Libya to cover the uprising against Muammar Gaddafi, embedding himself with rebel fighters (Libyan Civil War).
2011 Libya capture ordeal
In April 2011, Foley and three other journalists were detained near Brega, Libya, by forces loyal to Gaddafi; fellow photojournalist Anton Hammerl was killed in the attack in which Foley was captured. Foley was released from jail 44 days later  He returned to Milwaukee to thank the community for praying for his safe return. In an interview, Foley said, "You go through different emotions when you're in captivity... These weird extreme ideas of where you are based on this capture. You don't want to be defined as that guy who got captured in 2011. I believe front line journalism is important [without it] we can't tell the world how bad it might be." He also wrote an article for Marquette Magazineabout how rosary prayers helped get him through his captivity. His experience of being captured did not deter him, he quickly returned to Libya, and was at the scene ofMuammar Gaddafi’s capture with GlobalPost correspondent Tracey Shelton on October 20, 2011.