By Bill Kirk
---- — NORTH ANDOVER — For the second time in less than two years, a news correspondent with local ties has been kidnapped while covering strife in the Middle East — this time in Syria.
James Foley, 39. whose brother lives in North Andover and whose parents live in Rochester, N.H., was kidnapped in northwest Syria by four unknown gunmen on Thanksgiving Day, according to various press accounts and information posted on the Web site, freejamesfoley.org.
“Jim is the oldest of five children,” says a statement on the website. “He has reported independently and objectively from the Middle East for the past five years. Prior to his work as a journalist, Jim helped empower disadvantaged individuals as a teacher and mentor assisting them in improving their lives. The family appeals for the release of Jim unharmed.”
The statement was signed, “The Foley Family.” The site says he has been missing for 41 days.
Michael Foley, who lives in North Andover, is spearheading the effort to raise awareness of his brother’s plight.
They grew up in Wolfboro, N.H. Their parents, Diane and John Foley, now live in Rochester.
Last spring, Foley was kidnapped while covering the conflict in Libya.
Libyan soldiers loyal to former leader Moammar Gadhafi released him on May 18, six weeks after taking him and two other journalists captive near Brega. At the time he was working for the Boston-based website GlobalPost.
He had been captured on April 5, 2011. He later returned to the country to cover Muammar Gaddafi’s fall.
More recently, Foley was covering the civil war in Syria, filing video reports to Agence France-Press, a French news agency, according to a statement released online yesterday by his family.
The news agency quoted its chairman, Emmanuel Hoog, as saying it was doing all it could to secure Foley’s release.
Reuters News Agency reported yesterday that Foley had been driving toward the Syrian border with Turkey when he was intercepted by a car.
No group has publicly claimed responsibility. Several journalists have been abducted in Syria during the 21-month-old uprising. Last year the country was by far the most dangerous for journalists with 28 killed, according to the watchdog group Committee to Protect Journalists.
Rebel groups fighting to oust President Bashar al-Assad have detained journalists suspected of supporting the government. Pro-Assad militia have also seized journalists, including an NBC News team held for five days in December.
Material from the Associated Press and Reuters News Agency was used in this report.