SpyCast 5.7.24
Ep 632 | 5.7.24

“James Foley: Journalist, ISIS Hostage, Son” – with His Mother Diane Foley

Show Notes


Diane Foley (Website, LinkedIn) joins Andrew (XLinkedIn) to discuss the legacy of her son, James Foley. James was held hostage and murdered by ISIS in 2014. 

What You’ll Learn


  • The enduring legacy of James’ murder
  • James’ time in captivity in Libya 
  • A mother’s experience communicating with her son’s captors
  • How hostage recovery efforts have evolved since 2014


  • Grief turned into action
  • Forgiveness, empathy, and resilience 

And much, much more …

Episode Notes

This week on SpyCast, Andrew was joined in the studio by Diane Foley, co-author of the new book American Mother. Diane’s eldest son James, a freelance journalist, was covering the Syrian Civil War when he was kidnapped and held hostage in Syria for almost two years. This year marks ten years since James was murdered by his ISIS captors in 2014. Diane remembers Jim as a curious, thoughtful, and empathetic soul who yearned to protect and share the humanity of people around the world. Today, SpyCast is humbled and proud to be a small part of helping to share Jim’s story. 

After listening to this week’s episode, our American listeners may be wondering how they can help U.S. nationals currently wrongfully detained or unlawfully held abroad. To learn more, we encourage listeners to visit the Hostage Advocacy Resources page on the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation website. 


A collection of James Foley’s articles, letters, and other records are in the process of being archived and digitized at James’ alma mater, Marquette University. These archival records will ensure that James’ invaluable work as a journalist and humanitarian will live on for centuries to come. Marquette’s archives hold several fascinating collections, including the FBI case file on suspected spy Albert Einstein. 

Quotes of the Week

“[Jim] could have been teaching or doing so many things, writing … but he just felt those stories were essential. And it really made me realize and recognize the courage of our current journalists going into Ukraine or Gaza. We wouldn't have any idea what's happening in that part of the world without those folks who dare to be there and dare to find ways to tell that story and bring it back to us.” – Diane Foley.



*Spotlight Resource*

  • American Mother, Colum McCann and Diane Foley (Etruscan Press, 2024)


*Beginner Resources*



  • The Isis Hostage, P. Damsgard (Pegasus Books, 2017)
  • Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS, J. Warrick (Anchor, 2016)
  • Never Split the Difference: Negotiating As If Your Life Depended On It, C. Voss & T. Raz (Harper Business, 2016)



Primary Sources 

*Wildcard Resource*