Jim: The James Foley Story

James Wright Foley

James Wright Foley was born on October 18, 1973 in Evanston, Illinois.

He was the first-born son of Diane and John Foley of Rochester, New Hampshire.

Jim grew up in the beautiful town of Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. He was the oldest of five children.

Committed Educator & Mentor

After graduating from Kingswood High School in 1992, he chose to further his education at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

At Marquette, he made life-long friends and was challenged to serve the voiceless. After graduating, Jim taught from 1996 to 2000, educating youth with Teach for America in inner city Phoenix, Arizona.

Jim was drawn to writing and completed a Master of Fine Arts program in writing with the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 2002.

While in Massachusetts, Jim helped educate unwed mothers so they could get their GEDs.

Later, in Chicago, he taught English to inmates of the Cook County jail.

By becoming a conflict journalist, Jim was able to merge his interest in writing with his compassion for the poor, disadvantaged, and suffering amid conflict.

Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in Illinois granted him this opportunity.

“Seeing Jim work to save lives, even a few lives from hundreds of thousands, it is impossible not to feel respect.”
— Chris Chivers, 2018 James W. Foley World Press Freedom Award Recipient

Courageous Freelance Conflict Journalist & Videographer

Jim began reporting in Iraq, then Afghanistan, Libya and finally Syria. In 2011, Jim was detained by Colonel Muammar Gadaffi’s Libyan regime for 44 days, and finally released.

In January 2012, Jim began what would be many trips in and out of northern Syria as a freelance video journalist.

He began cautiously, but gained confidence as he met kind and hospitable Syrians who offered him their generous hospitality.

In October 2012, Jim was back in New Hampshire to visit family and friends who gathered to celebrate his birthday. Unfortunately, this was Jim’s last trip home.

The Foley Family’s final communication with Jim was one week before he was kidnapped on November 22, 2012 in northern Syria. The family never heard his voice again. Jim was murdered on August 19, 2014 in the Raqqa region of Syria.


“I told my son I wished he had gotten to know Jim Foley, whose kindness and humanity had such an impact when he was here on earth and whose incredible legacy has impacted million around the globe.”
— Jen Easterly, 2018 James W. Foley Hostage Freedom Award Recipient


NOVEMBER 22, 2012

James went missing on this day, while reporting for GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse

AUGUST 19, 2014

The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria posted a video online showing his murder

SEPTEMBER 12, 2014

The Foley family formally launched the James W. Foley Legacy Fund–later renamed the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation


Jim or James?

His given name is James Wright Foley.
His friends and family called him Jim.


Video Reporter or Photographer? 

James was a freelance text reporter and video journalist. The terms photographer and photojournalist most commonly refer to still photographers and therefore don’t apply to James.