NORTH ANDOVER — James Foley, a freelance journalist with a local connection, has reportedly been executed by Islamic State terrorists in Syria.
Foley, 40, has been held since Nov. 22, 2012, when he was captured in Syria. His brother, Michael Foley, lives in North Andover. His parents, John and Diane Foley, reside in Rochester, N.H.
At Foley's family home in Rochester, a light burned yellow in a center upstairs window and a yellow ribbon adorned a tree at the foot of the driveway. His mother, Diane Foley, her eyes red and glassy, said her family would be making no statements on the video.
The Rev. Paul Gousse, of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, where the Foleys are parishioners, spent about 45 minutes at the house. He left without commenting.
The White House was attempting to confirm the accuracy of the terrorists' claim that they had beheaded Foley.
“We have seen a video that purports to be the murder of U.S. citizen James Foley by ISIL. The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available,” said Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the National Security Council.
Foley was kidnapped in northwestern Syria by four gunmen Nov. 22, 2012, according to various press accounts. He was filing video reports on the civil war in that nation for Agence France-Press.
This was not the first time Foley was captured while gathering news. He was taken prisoner by forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi on April 5, 2011, then released six weeks later. Undeterred by that experience, Foley returned to Libya to cover Gadhafi's ousting.
At that time, he was reporting for the Boston website GlobalPost. After his release, he told The Eagle-Tribune that his experience in Libya had given him greater appreciation for the United States.
Gadhafi's forces detained him for reporting without permission. He was shuffled among three prisons, blindfolded or handcuffed while being transported and he watched another journalist killed.
"I took it for granted. I'll admit it," Foley said in a May 2011 interview with The Eagle-Tribune. "Due process of law. A government that will advocate for its citizens even if you're a nobody. I think I've come back with a tremendous appreciation for our system, our civil rights."
Foley got out of Libya on May 18, crossing into Tunisia with the help of officials of the Hungarian Embassy in Libya. Hungarian diplomats lobbied the Libyan government for Foley's release after Turkish officials evacuated their embassy — and their effort to free Foley.
Foley also covered the war in Afghanistan but called the Libyan fighting the worst he had ever experienced to that point.
Foley grew up in New Hampshire and studied history at Marquette University. He later taught in Arizona, Massachusetts and Chicago before switching careers to become a journalist, which he viewed as a calling.
"Journalism is journalism," Foley said in an interview with Associated Press after being freed in Libya. "If I had a choice to do Nashua zoning meetings or give up journalism, I'll do it. I love writing and reporting."
Associated Press contributed to this story.