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Local journalists react to American journalist's beheading in Syria

Local journalists react to American journalist's beheading

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - The beheading of an American journalist by ISIS forces hits close to home for some southern Colorado journalists.

A video released by ISIS shows the beheading of James Foley who had been missing since 2012.  In the video, a masked man also threatens the life of another American if President Barack Obama doesn't end military operations in Iraq.

It's not the first time Foley was held captive.  In April 2011, Foley was captured by Gaddafi loyalists in Libya and held for six weeks.  When he returned to the U.S., he spoke about his experiences in various interviews and lectures.

KRDO NewsChannel 13 reporter Dana Molina was in her final days before graduation at Northwestern University when Foley, a Northwestern alum, spoke to her journalism class.

"It had been two weeks since he had been freed," Molina said.  "He said it broke his heart that the whole time he was being held captive, that his mom had been crying for him, that she had been praying for him."

In an interview with The Boston Globe in 2011, Foley recounted watching another journalist and friend shot and killed.

"I yelled 'Anton, are you OK?' He responded 'no.' Another barrage of bullets and I said, 'Anton!' and he didn't respond after that," Foley said.

Molina remembered Foley's account of the loss and said that even though everyone was focused on Foley's return, Foley was was more focused on the loss of Anton Hammerl.

Dave Smith, a freelance photojournalist based in Colorado Springs, knows the risks associated with journalism in at-times dangerous locations.  Though he's never documented a war zone, his work with various non-governmental organizations took him to places in Africa, South America, Southeast Asia and Central America.

"A gang leader from an area in El Salvador came up to us, told us who he was, and he says, 'I know what you're doing here. You're doing good work. So I told people here to look out for you and not bother you,'" Smith said. "They could have just as easily shot you in the head."

Smith said though the work of a war journalist is dangerous, he's glad there are brave men and women who do it.

"It's a dangerous world out there but I still think it's important work," Smith said. "It still needs to be done."

In Foley's own words, even after being captured in 2011, he was dedicated to his profession.

"I believe that frontline journalism is important. Without these photos and videos and firsthand experience, we can't really tell the world how bad it may be," Foley said.

Diane Foley, James' mom, shared a message on Facebook Tuesday night:

"We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.

"We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.

"We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim."

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