Beheaded Journalist Prayed Rosary Aloud During Prior Libyan Captivity

By Lauretta Brown | August 20, 2014 | 3:52 PM EDT

American journalist James Foley, who was beheaded by Islamic State terrorists in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq. (AP photo)

( – James Foley, a freelance journalist for   the Globalpost news service who was beheaded by members of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), prayed the Rosary aloud with his fellow captives when he was imprisoned for six weeks by Muslim extremists in Libya in 2011.

“It felt energizing to speak our weaknesses and hopes together, as if in a conversation with God, rather than silently and alone.” Foley later recounted in an article for the Marquette University alumni magazine.

“Jim’s faith was something we all agreed not to discuss publicly while he was held in Syria, but it was the wellspring of his generosity,” his friend, Max Fisher of Vox, told CNN after Foley's execution by Islamic terrorists.

“Myself and two colleagues had been captured and were being held in a military detention center in Tripoli. Each day brought increasing worry that our moms would begin to panic,” Foley wrote of his ordeal in Libya.

“I began to pray the rosary,” he went on. “It was what my mother and grandmother would have prayed. I said 10 Hail Marys between each Our Father. It took a long time, almost an hour to count 100 Hail Marys off on my knuckles. And it helped to keep my mind focused.”

“They’re having a prayer vigil for you at Marquette. Don’t you feel our prayers?” Foley’s mother asked him during a brief phone conversation allowed by his Libyan captors.

“I thought about this for a second,” Foley wrote. “Maybe it was others’ prayers strengthening me, keeping me afloat.”

“I replayed that call hundreds of times in my head my mother’s voice,” he added, “the names of my friends, her knowledge of our situation, her absolute belief in the power of prayer. She told me my friends had gathered to do anything they could to help. I knew I wasn’t alone.”

“If nothing else,” Foley concluded, “prayer was the glue that enabled my freedom, an inner freedom first and later the miracle of being released during a war in which the regime had no real incentive to free us. It didn’t make sense, but faith did.”


Foley was captured again while reporting on the civil war in Syria in 2012, and was held captive despite strenuous efforts by Globalpost to rescue him.

"Before leaving for Syria this last time, Jim said that he finally had found his passion," his fatther, John, said last year.

Calling him “an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person” who “gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people," Foley’s mother, Diane, wrote a statement on Facebook following the release of an ISIS video depicting her son’s beheading.

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