The New Hampshire family of James Foley, a Boston-based foreign correspondent, announced today that Foley was kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day while on assignment in Syria, and remains missing.
Foley, 39, reportedly was taken by unidentified gunmen in the northwest of the country, the family said in a statement. The family said they hoped to build support for his release.
“We want Jim to come safely home, or at least we need to speak with him to know he’s OK,” John Foley, father of James Foley, said in the statement. “Jim is an objective journalist and we appeal for the release of Jim unharmed. To the people who have Jim, please contact us so we can work together toward his release.”
The statement was posted on a website, freejamesfoley.org, set up to campaign for the journalist’s release.
Foley, 39, was reporting on the civil war in Syria. He had previously reported on conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, where he was taken captive in 2011.
Foley, a freelance reporter, has written for a number of news organizations, including GlobalPost, a Boston-based international news organization. In a story posted today, GlobalPost reported that Foley was traveling when he was intercepted by an unmarked car. A Syrian witness later recounted that men with Kalashnikovs forced Foley from his car, according to GlobalPost.
“The witness said he noticed nothing that would indicate whether the aggressors were rebel fighters, individuals looking for a ransom, members of a pro-government militia, or a religious-based group with other motivations,” the organization reported.
GlobalPost CEO Philip S. Balboni said the organization has been “working intensively” over the past six weeks to secure Foley’s freedom.
“Jim is a brave and dedicated reporter who has spent much of the past year covering the civil war in Syria, believing like so many of his colleagues that this is a very important story for the American people to know more about,” he said in a statement. “We urge his captors to release him.”
The report stated that it was unclear whether Foley had been seized by the same group that captured NBC News correspondent Richard Engel last month. Engel and three members of his team were freed from captors unharmed after a firefight at a roadside checkpoint.
Of the 67 journalists killed while reporting in 2012, 28 were in Syria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Peter Schworm can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globepete.