American journalist James Foley disappeared in November 2012. During this period, Foley was freelancing for a media company, GlobalPost, in Boston. In January 2012, Foley began reporting in Syria as a video journalist and returned home for the last time to New Hampshire in October 2012 to celebrate his birthday. 

According to the CEO of GlobalPost, he stated in a podcast with NPR that he and Foley’s parents were still prepared to raise money to have Foley released. Foley’s parents were receiving emails from the Islamic militants, attempting to persuade them in providing them money for their son. 

In August 2014, Foley was beheaded by Islamic State militants in a video that went viral on the internet, which included another American journalist Steve Sotloff from Time magazine who was beheaded a month later. 

Foley’s mother told the Associated Press “that when she’d contact the State Department, it seemed she was speaking to a different person each time. And she felt out of the loop on developments, learning of an unsuccessful Navy SEALs rescue attempt — Foley and other hostages had already been relocated — only after her son’s death.”

Since the tragedy, Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, has become an unofficial ambassador for terrorist hostages while working with the government to change the way they respond to kidnapped Americans. 

Five years since her son’s death, Foley has created the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. The foundation advocates for the safe return of all American hostages abroad, continued research on the U.S. hostage policy and improved safety of journalists worldwide. 

In 2015, the Obama Administration created a State Department Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs aimed to handle diplomatic negotiations working closely with the Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell. The goal of the fusion cell is to focus on hostage cases and collaborate with American families whose loved ones are being held. The departments remain whole under the current administration. 

Since created in 2015 the State Department Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs has assisted families and managed the diplomatic aspects of hostage recovery efforts as well as improving engagement with key personnel, at home and abroad, according to “Bringing Americans Home,” research conducted by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. 

The overall goal of the foundation and departments is to create better communication between the US government and families whose loved one is trapped in captivity in a foreign land. 

Written ByMaydeen Merino

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