August 17. 2017 11:33PM

Diane Foley: Hostages being taken overseas still a 'silent crisis'

By KIMBERLEY HAAS
Union Leader Correspondent


War correspondent James Foley was executed by ISIS in 2014, two years after being kidnapped in Syria. 

ROCHESTER — The third anniversary of freelance war correspondent James Foley’s public beheading by the Islamic State is Saturday, and his mother is in Washington to talk to officials at the FBI and White House.

Diane Foley of Rochester arrived in the nation’s capitol Thursday. She hopes to convince the Trump administration that the position of special presidential envoy for hostage affairs at the State Department should not be left vacant.

President Barack Obama appointed James O’Brien to serve as the first special envoy in August 2015. O’Brien resigned on Jan. 20 with the change of administrations.

James Foley grew up in New Hampshire. He was abducted while covering the civil war in Syria in 2012. His captors recorded his beheading in August 2014 and circulated it worldwide via the internet.

Before her son was abducted, Foley said, she had no idea how complicated the process of freeing hostages is. She said between 200 and 300 Americans are kidnapped overseas each year.

“This continues to be a silent crisis,” Foley said.

The James W. Foley Foundation provides free safety curriculum for journalism students at colleges and universities so they can hopefully avoid being abducted in conflict zones. Facebook just awarded the foundation a grant to hire a program director.

“We’re hoping to increase our outreach, and branch out to other schools,” Foley said.

But that is not enough. Foley said the foundation’s mission is to advocate for the return of all Americans captured overseas, which is why she made the trip to Washington.

“Americans are targeted,” Diane Foley said. “We just want to hold those groups accountable for bringing Americans home.”

Locally, plans are underway for the third annual James W. Foley Freedom Run, a 5K run and walk. The date has been set for Oct. 14, and the event will start and end at the Rochester Fairgrounds.

For more information, visit foleyrun.org.