Jan. 3, 2013 — -- An American journalist covering the bloody civil war in Syria has not been heard from since he was kidnapped on Thanksgiving Day, less than a year after he was captured and held by government forces in Libya, his family said.
James Foley, 39, a freelance reporter covering the conflict for the French wire service Agence France Presse and the Global Post web site, is believed to have been captured at gunpoint in the northern Syrian province of Idlib on Nov. 22.
His family, employers and government officials had kept his kidnapping secret until this week when his parents broke their silence and publicly appealed to his captors.
"We want Jim to come safely home, or at least we need to speak with him to know he's OK," said his father, John Foley, in a statement posted online. "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."
Journalists are rarely granted visas to visit the country, which is embroiled in a year-long civil war, and reporters sometimes enter the country illegally. The Committee to Protect Journalists ranked Syria the most dangerous country in the world to work in 2012, after 28 reporters there were killed.
Last month, NBC correspondent Richard Engle was captured near where Foley was last seen.
"James is a professional journalist who has remained totally neutral in this conflict," AFP chairman Emmanuel Hoog said in a statement. "His captors, whoever they may be, must release him immediately."
Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., is "actively assisting the Foley family and is in close contact with the State Department regarding James's status," the senator's office said in a statement.
Foley had been captured once previously, while covering the civil war in Libya in April 2011. He and two other reporters were held for six weeks.
A third man, South African photojournalist Anton Hammerl was shot during their capture.
Following Foley's release in 2011, he told ABC affiliate WMUR-TV that he looked forward to returning to the Middle East to report but that he would "be smarter… be anonymous again… write and shoot the story rather than become the story."