Parents of James Foley Hold Press Conference After Son's Execution

John and Diane Foley believe that their son "felt committed to the people who were trying to become free."
39:25 | 08/20/14

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Transcript for Parents of James Foley Hold Press Conference After Son's Execution
-- -- Foley's life stands in stark contrast. To his killers. Let's be clear but -- They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent on armed civilians and cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children. And subject them to torture. And rape. And slavery. -- murdered Muslims. Both Sunni and -- by the thousands. The target Christians and religious minorities. Driving them from their homes. Murdering them when they can't. An angry President Obama calling out the group known as I aces or the Islamic state for the murder of journalist James Foley. Hello everyone I'm -- can -- -- in Washington the killing of the war correspondent resonating today across the nation. President Obama vowing that the US will stand firm against those. And more airstrikes against -- have been launched since the video was released. Watching all -- here in Washington DC is ABC's Karen Travers Karen. -- afternoon about the -- is says it killed James Foley as an act of retribution for the US airstrikes in Iraq -- those airstrikes continue the Pentagon just announced a few moments ago that there have been. Fourteen. More near that critical Mosul dam. And President Obama said today that the US will not stop doing whatever it takes to defend Americans. President Obama said the world is appalled by the brutal killing of American journalist James Foley. -- -- taken from us an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world. The video released by -- is graphic and chilling. It shows a forty year old photo journalist in an orange jumpsuit kneeling down his -- his executioners standing next to him. I wish I could have the hope of freedom and seeing my family once again he says but that ship has sailed. Today police parents broke down when talking about their son and his final words. This is -- and -- His determination. There's -- smile. The ice is video also shows another hostage identified as Americans Steven -- also -- a freelance journalist. The -- of this American citizen Obama depends on your next decision the -- acute Shatner says. The ice -- militants speaking English with what appears to be a British accent and that's caused something close to panic in the UK. British prime minister David Cameron cut short his vacation to return to -- for emergency meetings. His foreign minister today expressed their top concern some of those. Foreign nationals. Who -- at some stage seek to return to their countries of origin and carry out attacks in. One international group said July it was the best recruiting month ever for -- -- 6000 new fighters added. Fuzzy it's a clear sign of just how much momentum this militant group has gained -- -- frightening ABC's Karen Travers thank you Karen. And now one of the things that has been really disconcerting is that the voice on that video is of a British man. As Karen mentioned the prime minister David Cameron cut his vacation short on that news and the BBC caught up with them. To learn more about the video and the man behind the mask. Well first -- litany condemn completely the ball Barry and brutal. Act that is taking place and let's be clear what this -- is it is an act all mud. And -- without any justification. Now we have not identified. The individual responsible on the Padilla but from what we've seen it looks increasingly likely. That it is a British citizen. IDC's -- pretty shocking. But we know that far too many British citizens have traveled to Iraq. And traveled to Syria to take call it extremism and violence and what we -- you. Is redouble our efforts to stop people going to take away the Paul sports of those contemplating travel to arrest and prosecute those -- take part in this extremism and violence. To take extremism extremist material off the Internet. And do everything we can. To keep all people safe and that is what this government will do -- interrupted -- -- he really changed the government's policy. Specifically foreign policy do you still rule out military action in Iraq to talk it's. The Islamic state we will stick to the very clear foreign policy in the very clear strategy that we have. Which -- to work with the new Iraqi Government to help make sure all the -- get the homes they need to fight -- And these brutal. Extremist militants to work with our allies and as I've said to use. -- thing that we have. All paid our diplomacy and development trip prize to make sure what -- allies we do everything we can and to put the pressure. All un Islamic state supporting organization. And everything we can back here -- to keep our country safe that is what we missed it. One rule out there -- certain measure is one rule out British troops on the ground. Or indeed the involvement of British planes to talk -- the people involved. I've been very clear. This country is not gonna get involved in another Iraq War we're not putting combat troops combat boots on the ground and that's not something we should do -- we have a clear strategy. We should stick to that strategy. And specifically here at home we have very clear rules tougher rules and of course would always look. At new proposals for even toughen rules to deal with terrorism and extremism. But is not a time for -- -- -- Reaction it is time for -- Britton well wishers in these circumstances. And that is a result. We have defeated terrorism extremism threats to our country before and we will defeat them again if we showed that result. But also patience. This struggle. Against Islamist extremism not a struggle all of one religion against another its ol' blue people and all religions including Islam. The -- a poisonous extremism. We must show patience and resolve in fighting this here at home in the UK and another -- the world what countries are being affected. Final question -- Do you think as a country perhaps we talk -- eyes off the bowl. We allowed ourselves to think that this was in the past. It was not a problem the which faces a woman's face you and you'll probably -- I've been very clear as prime minister of the lost -- years that this battle we face against. Islamist extremism not the religion of Islam but a poisonous extremist violent narrative is a generational struggle. It's a battle we have to fight in our own country it's a battle with allies using everything that we have our -- our diplomacy and yes all occasions our military prowess. That we have to fight -- reduced to -- with this problem in Somalia in -- Afghanistan. In Iraq and Syria. Because as much as we want to focus on keep yourself safe here at home and that is my focus. What happens in these other far flung places can come back. And cools us huge home here to. And that was British prime minister David Cameron speaking there. We also heard today from the fully family speaking about their son James Foley about his courage his leadership and the reason he went to cover Syria in the first place. Here's a look at their press conference. We're waiting Hoffman hopefully -- -- -- No I yeah I think reasoning went back -- concedes he felt committed to be. People who were trying to have to become free. Yes he and he had witnessed so much suffering and he -- just because he would see a very early I mean Jim. Was there the entire year of Tony -- he went in before many reporters. Before since he was freelance he could choose to do what he wanted to -- -- after Christmas he prepared to go to Syria. In January 20 trial and he was back and forth he wouldn't. Come out for arrested in Turkey that go back and it was he was driven by. As -- dead heat -- get people's. Deep desire for freedom. And suffering. The suffering of the children so many I mean you know. Just so -- so many children orphaned didn't mean to. Broken families -- it -- this whole thing of the stain on human race really. The the conflict in the middle leases to his chest sustain an -- others in the world. In Africa -- you know I don't. I don't think that we have a monopoly on pain and suffering just it's just awful you know. And Gary. -- -- -- -- -- who believe that he was. A person willing to -- toward conflict. You know because most people would run the other way -- -- to. I I think it's Saturday in college. It's starting college Ed Markey -- America. Became -- history -- which is useful -- And and then we can Teach for America -- tied in Phoenix in -- in Spanish in the disadvantage part of -- I mean Phoenix. And means immunity and then. He -- several other things you know he went -- -- break from Teach for America went to Chicago and Todd Lee Cook County jumps out for them English. -- jail yet to -- kind jailed to help. People in that jump start program to. Get -- GD so that the recidivism would be lessened. Yankee -- -- -- -- is it is usually happy to allow the kids he was he with the -- He he was filled with joy why not just sister in the -- -- -- sorry I need you is an arm -- and -- -- but I want Tim had. Was he had a deep love and he's just Joseph. He always said he -- hand raise listening. -- and I. Active list. And he want you tell your story to him. If he -- to be involved in your life he was a great friend he was never find a better friend in Virginia he had a -- would give you the shirt off his back and any and it didn't have much he didn't have to think that he had back. -- computers on camera it's all he and his whole life. And he died with him every -- in -- term. -- -- But Jim also is rather -- -- -- courageous as a kid. He tried everything -- how he wanted to skateboard and he and his snowboard and -- You know -- At least I -- I need it swim the dolphins in San Diego role. Type but hey guys -- instead it really hit him in college in Marquette Marquette University is set you know in the inner city of Milwaukee. And he's a freshman was -- to you know they need a -- yeah they needed freshman -- Helping this inner C schools so that -- was GM's first. Encounter -- really heat you know he and -- was kind of like a -- -- all. They he'd lived such a privileged life and only got to -- and the side of the world so that just opened his heart -- Everything else and they need -- -- keen to seek those people out and realized. It was another. Photos for merely. Initially came out. Through. -- just that we're very proud of -- you know he was courageous. Fearless. Journalist. Very compassionate Americans -- the best of America. And he always. Hoped that this -- he would come home that was his hope. And he sustained all the others who with him really with that. No but before coming home you want to support his fellow inmates he was always the first guy lying. BS. One it would take the bullet first the one who would speak to the -- about inequities in food he was. Who has never slacker he was always that the standards apparently. Asked to stand up guy you know. Which used -- -- authority. Wanted to do for others that we want to do fellow journalists. We also we also appreciate the tremendous number of prayers that we we received in Geneva received throughout all of our communities. -- Jimmy had said in Libya in -- we -- very sure now that he could feel the prayers and we think his strange came from god. Strength and we know it to it I'm as a matter of fact we are not the only American Stanley that is never received a letter from -- The apparently were all confiscated. So the last -- -- -- -- please. -- -- are high she -- memorized a letter from Jim. And windy and hours of his freedom he was good enough to call and voice that letter to -- And it it -- spoke. He's yearning to see all of us once again and Jim was very close to -- vehemently to. And his nieces and niece and nephews you know he -- But. So he merely expressed his glove and then creditors to succeed. So -- -- so we're very grateful for that but we have. But as John said. Seoul nanny people were praying for -- And I really think that's what gave GM and on usual -- Jim suggest can feel the prayers. He was strong courageous. Loving entity and imovie we just highly recognize their little boy I -- just. He was chest -- you know -- you -- from the videos is the last word here. And we're -- -- -- So -- had a big heart and just I just you know -- -- -- we shared with with President Obama you know we just pray that. Dad's -- gas can bring our country together in a stronger way. In -- the values. That GM hold DR. -- -- -- -- -- air the concerns you would never wanna step eight over the down in hands and an article yeah. And so. We see how are just. Very proud of Jimmy and me -- praying for the strength to love like to comment Tuesday courageous and to keep fighting. For all -- people that he was fighting for. And again to pray for mercy for -- from -- -- -- -- -- -- We we we big compassion. And -- compassion and mercy. -- -- -- Chris -- -- locked in for the other captains we just big rumors they weren't there or not he never heard anybody. They were trying to help. And there's no. Reason for their slaughter. -- -- -- -- -- and they knew it he knew that Jim was just a symbol for our country. And it's it's that hatred that. GM was against Jim was there are two. Here's a truce in their witness to the love -- -- suffering. Hopes of the people to be free. Like we are. -- -- -- So we've done this before. So let -- -- we'll look at me and this week. In the -- Yucca Mountain it. I mean all the and sending -- feel this. Jim was just follow a lot off I mean it was could be back. And one of the reasons he was drawn to conflict journalism. Was because of his Brothers in the military. Heat. He as a -- affect him one -- his first assignments was in Afghanistan where his. Air force brother had what station at time and so I think. Jim wanted to be -- -- want to be there where -- lives he wanted seat cover what was happening at the human level. So. Actually before that he was with the Indiana National Guard and Iraq. Who was the largest single state contingent. -- And he he he was able to write articles that we -- humanize the soldiers with. It actually was sent back to their local newspapers. And news and their parents and so he was so grateful to have some news about their children and again it's a human there was dehumanizing nature of -- yes there's a war yes this conflict for their people involved. And their feelings involved in is this sacrifice involved in. He felt that that was worth sharing couldn't agree more. -- -- Arguing it was a musical. We have. Three had four -- you -- this is Michael's second all of the other two. And I think we have a navy nurse told we have -- hitting -- -- But she's not a sign treat -- -- is speak to John in the air force his little -- are said to me this morning. Me. -- -- -- And that's. -- -- -- -- yesterday at 7 o'clock seventy airline ticket if he's finished well into the Vietnam that's less expensive than. -- -- Look a little bit about. His decision obviously. Very difficult and their family when he was in captivity previously. About his decision to go back into this conversation that you had and you would just. Felt that this was really his mission to go back there and and with -- hard thing. Oh absolutely I think it made some of the siblings -- Understandably. I mean Michael Michael led the charge when he was in Libya. Tirelessly. To get do everything he could you get him out so they were often any. Promotions and happiness and the Simmons an angry how could she do this. And we take it personally. And you know we just tried to talk to -- about. -- -- -- -- where he grew at the point of considering fund -- Slash ransom president -- And we. We were making a video which I'm sure it's gonna promote its it's a video of all of Jimmy's experiences and all the people view of many of the pieces whose lives he's touched and kept -- contained in the medal. Despite his -- but one of the what do comments from one -- the experts actually was the person who runs from -- -- until Simon thank you please get there right. Joseph said you know -- when asked you know white eagle facts into question the excellent wolf what a -- keep going back into the blazing homes. -- -- -- -- And he felt -- his job this was his passion. So she's not afraid he wasn't crazy she was motivated by what he thought would was was doing the right thing and which gave -- energy to continue despite progress and remember Reagan's kitchen. And. -- -- you can use and news online go back -- -- this piece in the east -- I found my passion I found my vocation and he just felt compelled -- accompanying but he did you see had a hit. And that when he was -- fired. Your -- is not where it. Yeah. Give -- a fun loving married. You know -- daring but fun -- -- I you know. He was always a listening. And just just couldn't. Couldn't -- -- from other people's lives was part of your life when you told. In his -- story he was there. He was therefore you would do. It's been a long week. Aside from coverage from the -- so -- -- you're sharing with them. Worries and your prayers. For Jim and and now here we are 21 months later. It's been a long journey and how are you sharing power -- as -- family findings coming. -- in the moment. What we are -- -- moment and it that I provides you know every time we start to get despondent. All cities TE is. Beneath the -- of Jim. I mean we thought of GM and his courage in in the midst of -- suffering he was. Helping the other other prisoners I mean what -- a couple of much younger. People and that's out Jim was one of the older ones and he would sometimes just holds. One of them we're told you know who was struggling sells out. -- when she could you guys. You know somehow we needed just so we we've just prayed to god for the strength. And thanks to songs prayers and god is giving us -- me so many prayers. You know so -- that we continue to feel weak and we we just pray that we can be. It's something that is not difficult to find solace at this point in time but you know -- street that's -- -- free. And we know -- in God's hands. And we know -- -- God's work. -- -- -- -- So. -- -- Portland have to -- Happy for him. Where the ones. We need the courage from the -- take into and out of -- she was an inspiration for rush and social media news. -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- If that's so much joy into the -- -- he was never on time. Always late and so whenever we were expecting it was never the right time back. We always said -- Jimmy's coming is just a little way you know so it's just. Because he would run into a friend or run into probably before someone who needed his time. And Jim Lewis about the president and he announced so he would. Take care the president Jim was very deliberate about that and we knew that if -- So. But prayer is to sustain -- -- -- I mean our our. Catholic community. So many -- She's friends with call. For prayer and just friends -- gambling -- -- only every was. Pena -- I'm position and so many of my vehicle my practice. With tell me out their prayer -- six there there. -- -- were -- and people we never knew evening -- never knew it. If you sustained -- we've really had nothing for so long until the hostages were released in. What we didn't have any information. Yeah that -- really study get information -- European statue be released in the spring. I'm but we have some eyewitness reports last that we knew he was alive. Yes he I want to mention -- -- she would be cousin he is. He just yet he was incredible friend so we eat we had this policy huge support system FOJ's friends of jam. Cool chest with tireless. I mean they -- over the -- and world. I mean gain they helped us put on freedom of the press -- Two years ago may rate after his capture it. They've helped -- like. As -- says they've been trying to help with -- video -- trying to figure out what the individual -- we get a mouth maybe fund raising what can we do. You know and it was just there for us all the time. You know all the time -- ever come close like maybe there was a point where it's being very close I just got back from France and Denmark we thought we had a wasteful. To try it okay. We have no idea because most of it was classified we have no idea -- he listened to his anytime reacts to. -- now the FBI was in -- often. But I hope they do more for Steve yes the answer is -- -- do more for the next. We'd like anything. All night and the -- Expect -- this -- that can be done. Spoilage if in the -- Princeton played guys -- so many other nations this morning. You mentioned expressed desire and CNN next. Satisfied. Yeah and I think he's doing the best he can in this current circumstances. What I did do something differently maybe well I don't see the whole picture. I would like to say that -- would. All I'm saying is what we've been doing. To date has not been in Atlanta and in India -- -- if we know we don't know -- its gonna save Stephen or any of the other people so. I prayed that -- challenge our government to look deeply. Believe the end and and find a way. She used to aid to protect courageous Americans. You know humanitarian workers journalists who do since -- dare to go home. -- waving know that if it is a chance at -- would be killed -- captured. And we just praying that now. The Syrian environment from the highest. There has been the highest level kidnapping puncture wounds in the history journals so. I mean we're asking for news we want news what we have to support the people who do. I think -- all I see a thing here and it cost countries do a better job. France and Spain -- -- that your. And the the -- come -- obvious you know I think that we think journalists are -- Think they date. To -- freeway there they risked their lives in no resource no protections not a major network. The truth -- they stay longer in their violence and get better stores but we we really have. Not enough regard for the people who do this work. It's just it's just. It's just not enough you know. I remember when our two military son is so we're going to. If we're being deployed. And I remember it being physically sick the whole time our first son was deploy -- in Afghanistan. And it turns out -- it was really GM. In his work that was in much more danger I mean and I didn't even realize that I mean I really needing gas that fit. They heat without fear without any eventual flak jackets. -- head home soon. The tip it's taken us awhile to really realize recognize and wrecking. Who he. Saying he was too close to -- and I think -- Really realize what a courageous. Humanitarian. What -- told. -- them for the we start to this -- we now. -- and yet -- wears him eligible. Well we told them we would do any we asked them what they wanted to say on their behalf all. And it's you know. This -- asked that we big receivers life and we did we do it did and will continue to do that. And to be added to asked. For them to stay anonymous. They fear. I fear we fear is fear revealed that they might be even even -- -- -- Expect it to Michael. Also and then you have has some military experience my understanding now brother who is -- the only has the boring rather know. Can wait on the outside the weight of opinion whether -- as his little brother how tough this. This has been for his Brothers to stand -- -- place. Just helpless as everyone else you know -- skills. Like like my father mentioned there was a lot of anger -- You know I think we all can't believe. That this was his passion and there was a lot of value what he's doing bringing brings light to do some of the atrocities. -- You know -- all all became very supportive and did it -- we could. -- helpless we come Michael Myers Michael was it. Chairperson -- CEO of -- release effort from Libya. And so he is not an inexperienced justice was it entirely different. Species. Never ever did the F four days -- friends of Jim. Leave him. We were establishing a fund raising organization. People -- out of the woodwork it all kinds of professionals. Week. Two photographers want -- -- -- several lawyers. All -- Pro Bowl program all problems. And they just weren't enough I mean they weren't. There where there weren't. Where they were too many newer more people that we actually need because of -- Jim was you know. Let's take to get skis me -- that we must tell how how I can. Global post ten and one of just want to be outlets to GM's work. In Boston. Filled album. Global post C. There's CEO. It has become -- -- on his true Lee. Stock -- that's where we were very discouraged sometimes we'd argue we disagree on strategy -- he was so forgiving. And they -- -- security team to help us you know so to -- insurance though critics we had ray ray Benson the number is. Staggering. Shall we we -- All we'll certainly be grateful to the outcome is not positive but the effort and commitment -- Unbelievable. You know so and still is available to -- -- time between what I any other person we should acknowledges David Bradley of Atlanta the Atlantic and Washington. Heat he really tried to you gather at the -- only this out of court struck suffering. Because of the allowed once captive in Syria together and so. He also leaning his way really was the year for us he and his staff so. We have so grateful we had we had the best people helping us will best people. We lost. We lost because of many reasons is being made but we had the best people. I have no reservations that we tries hard is it possible. Had the best people helping us there was no lack of lack of commitment and can't say enough about all the peoples -- Apologist for showing up late was -- -- father -- earlier today and he said. He just -- make sense out of something insane. Is that some. I mean this particular group. Because. Cut a path through. Iraq. A path of destruction and suffering. You know it's just it's just it's not it's not humans not part of our human nature. It's not part of our Christian. Philosophy it's just. This does two things I'd like to say than a minute ago about Jim one. It's the type of person he was here he put himself front line. In this in this setting and number two his his his some his final words -- Hadn't memorized. Really -- of him and how we feel about immunity his leftovers to. To deal with family again. And now at some point -- will be together and that's. Those of it to two takeaways that like people remember. But I mean how do you make sense that if someone is good news GM meetings -- and I mean that's you know. Just evil in the. -- so much evil so we need to praying that it makes things we need to pray for the captors. It. Did you see the video. When you -- go news. We send out. Actually. A combination of our my brother in -- reaching out to us from Houston because he's one of the administrators and the free Foley page and what the agency is something something -- something going on you know and they read -- that same time we heard from. Laura Jakes of the AT. And you know she's crying on the she'd been trying to reach -- -- Days had been ignoring her -- we didn't hear talk to anybody. And -- you know that we -- we just knew that was out there we didn't you know we weren't. I'm directly notified we found out like everyone else. That the image of how we died. Still testing here. Well we knew this. We didn't watch TV. To answer your questions you know. Terrific. How many people -- -- -- lots of different ways to display it was the most. And it it Huntsman. He. How much pain he was in -- Oh cool this -- -- Method of execution is as opposed to so many so. It testifies to his car. -- -- He was courageous to me -- and I think he was. I think he accepted his situation I think he accepted God's faith in him and his faith in god and just just. It reminds us that Jesus you know Jesus was goodness -- Andy -- it was becoming more and more that we gave him -- support it's. And you know he met such -- -- -- we believe -- of the -- So you know a martyr for for freedom. Martyr for freedom. Michael -- -- -- -- sure that he volunteered to go first. We don't know that but I'm sure that he he was -- only -- -- who have been public. So I'm sure. I've played into -- country he didn't shrink from the the situation -- well you know what somebody else go first. -- -- -- -- -- To deal -- -- -- -- you know. -- just be. I don't even know how much pain we know we're gonna -- -- -- the point is is just. Right now it's like this is a -- can happen and we never thought this would happen we we were. -- that kind of had nine rice and he came -- -- -- and I guess we just never gave up hope -- we just kept thinking that somehow. We're getting closer -- you know -- -- a week. We just -- to. Spoke to the president earlier. It's out of our hands actually what happens -- Jimmy did his work. He did actually -- -- possibly do to make this right. So it's -- others to pick up the ball and go forward you know really is. Our government. Other foreign governments and just how long we cannot tolerate. You know I mean. The Iraqi People the Syrian people being -- beat up you know so -- it's really a question of how long can we tolerate -- -- team. Federal you know it doesn't. Does it doesn't feel good. And we've been listening there to the parents of journalist James Foley. Who have shown incredible composure during this tough time the kind of strength most of his parents can't imagine in this situation. They said we are praying -- for the -- to love as he did. And that they are -- his captors to show compassion and mercy for another American journalist they're holding captive and other captives as well. We of course will continue to follow the story ABC news and you can keep up with the story in real time. By downloading the ABC news -- and starring the story for exclusive updates while you're on the go. For now I'm -- -- can Connie in Washington DC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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