James Foley's final letter to family reveals terrible conditions during ISIS captivity

By Daniel S Levine,

James Foley was never allowed to send letters to his family while being held in captivity by the militant group ISIS, but the journalist did manage to get one message to them in a unique way. His family made the letter public on Facebook this weekend.

The letter was posted on the Find James Foley Facebook page. In the post, the family said that Foley was never able to write to his relatives directly. However, he asked one of his fellow captives to memorize the letter and the fellow captive relayed that to his family once she was freed.

At the beginning of the letter, Foley recalls family outings with his parents, memories that had kept him alive. “I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray,” he wrote. “I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray.”

Foley’s letter also reveals the terrible conditions he and others were held captive under. Eighteen people were crammed in one cell, although he said that helped him stay alive. They continued talking to each other about pop culture and found ways to play board games.

“I have had weak and strong days,” Foley noted. “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 concluded the letter with messages to his brother and his grandmother. “Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing,” he wrote to her. “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 a freelance journalist covering Syria for the GlobalPost when he went missing two years ago. Last week, a video of him being murdered by an ISIS extremist was posted on YouTube.

“The entire world is appalled,” President Obama said last week. “No just God would stand for what they did yesterday or every single day … People like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future’s won by those who build and not destroy. The world is shaped by people like Jim Foley.”

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