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He knew the risks, but the job came first

By Staff Reporter

Journalist James Foley had worked in a number of conflict zones in the Middle East, but the danger did not stop him from doing the job he loved.

Captured and held for six weeks while covering the uprising in Libya, he knew the risks when he went to Syria two years ago to cover the escalating violence there.

Mr Foley was snatched again in Syria in November 2012 when the car he was travelling in was stopped by four militants in a battle zone that Sunni rebel fighters and Government forces were trying to control.

At Mr Foley's family home in Rochester, New Hampshire, a light burned yellow in a centre upstairs window last night, and a yellow ribbon adorned a tree at the foot of the driveway. The Rev Paul Gousse, of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, where the Foleys are parishioners, visited the house but left without commenting.

Mr Foley (40) and another journalist were working in the northern province of Idlib in Syria when they were kidnapped near the village of Taftanaz.

After Mr Foley disappeared, while contributing video for Agence France-Presse and GlobalPost, his parents became fierce advocates for him and all those kidnapped in war zones. They held regular prayer vigils and worked with the US and Syrian diplomatic corps to get whatever scraps of information they could.

Diane Foley, asked in January 2013 if her son had reservations about going to Syria, said softly: "Not enough."

Mr Foley had seen the dangers to journalists up close.

Upon his release from Libya and return to the US, he recalled in an interview seeing a colleague, South African photographer Anton Hammerl, killed by forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. He tried to pull his friend's body out of harm's way but was turned back by heavy fire.

"I'll regret that day for the rest of my life. I'll regret what happened to Anton," Mr Foley said. "I will constantly analyse that."

Mr Foley also covered the war in Afghanistan but called the Libyan fighting the worst he had ever experienced to that point.

Mr Foley grew up in New Hampshire and studied history at Marquette University. He later became a teacher before switching careers to become a journalist, which he viewed as a calling.

"Journalism is journalism," he said. "If I'd a choice to do Nashua (New Hampshire) zoning meetings or give up journalism, I'll do it. I love writing and reporting."

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