During his two years of captivity in Syria, journalist James Foley had no communication with his family. Any letters he tried to send were reportedly confiscated by his jailers — believed to be members of the terrorist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. The photojournalist, however, was able to provide his family with one last letter. On Sunday night, James Foley's mother posted Foley's final message to Facebook, sent months before he was executed by ISIS.
According to Diane Foley, the message was received in an extraordinary way. Because all written letters were swiftly taken by the ISIS members, Foley had fellow hostage Daniel Rye Ottosen, a Danish photojournalist who was about to be freed, memorize his message. Ottosen did, and called Diane shortly after his release in June.
Ottosen dictated the entire message, which not only includes love and prayers for his family, but also some insight about the hostage situation.
Dear Family and Friends,I remember going to the Mall with Dad, a very long bike ride with Mom. I remember so many great family times that take me away from this prison. Dreams of family and friends take me away and happiness fills my heart. I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports. We have played games made up of scraps found in our cell…we have found ways to play checkers, Chess, and Risk… and have had tournaments of competition, spending some days preparing strategies for the next day’s game or lecture. The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help. We repeat stories and laugh to break the tension.
I have had weak and strong days. We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength. We are being fed better now and daily. We have tea, occasional coffee. I have regained most of my weight lost last year.
Foley then sends special messages to each of his four siblings. He requests that any money left in his bank account be sent to his brother, Michael, and calls his sister the "strongest one" in the family:
And Mark… so proud of you too Bro. I think of you on the West coast and hope you are doing some snowboarding and camping, I especially remember us going to the Comedy Club in Boston together and our big hug after. The special moments keep me hopeful.Katie, so very proud of you. You are the strongest and best of us all!! I think of you working so hard, helping people as a nurse. I am so glad we texted just before I was captured. I pray I can come to your wedding…. now I am sounding like Grammy!!
His last words — a plea to help "reclaim" his life — are directed at his grandmother:
Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita’s when I get home. Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life.
Foley was covering the ongoing crisis in Syria as a freelancer for the Global Post when he was abducted in November 2012. A New Hampshire native, a Catholic church in his hometown of Rochester held a remembrance mass for the slain journalist on Sunday. According to The Associated Press, hundreds attended the mass, and a letter sent by the Vatican expressing Pope Francis's condolences was read.
Images: Nicole Tung/Free James Foley Facebook, Getty Images (2)