Brother of executed journalist served at GFAFB
It was a photo of his brother in military uniform on James Foley’s laptop that earned the kidnapped reporter harsher treatment from his captors, former prisoners told European news media this week.
Three weeks before Foley was executed, his brother John Foley was stationed at Grand Forks Air Force Base. Officials at Grand Forks Air Force Base confirmed that John Foley had been stationed at the base, but could not provide specifics about his duties.
French journalist Didier Francois, who was imprisoned with Foley, told Europe 1 Radio the picture of John found on James’ laptop made him a target of added abuse, including mock executions. Despite becoming the terrorists’ scapegoat, James Foley was a leader to the group of captives, according to Francois.
Another French hostage, Nicolas Henin, corroborated Francois’ story.
“The kidnappers knew that his brother was in the U.S. Air Force,” Henin told the BBC. “He became the whipping-boy of the jailers but remained unperturbed.”
A militant extremist group called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria kidnapped the freelance journalist on Thanksgiving 2012 while he was working in Syria for GlobalPost. A video revealing his execution surfacedTuesday.
The Daily Mail reported Thursday that the Air Force confirmed John Foley was stationed at the air base as a logistics officer during most of the two years his brother was held hostage. The base is home to the 319th Logistics Readiness Squadron.
John Foley was transferred to a post in Europe about three weeks before a video of an ISIS member beheading James was released, according to the Daily Mail.
In that video, James Foley was forced to read a speech that said his death is a result of recent U.S. bombings in Iraq. At one point in the speech, James singles out his brother’s military service.
“I died that day, John, when your colleagues dropped that bomb on those people, they signed my death certificate,” James Foley says in the video. “I wish I had more time. I wish I could have the hope of freedom and seeing my family once again, but that ship has sailed.”