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James Foley's Mother 'Grateful' To Trump, Troops For Targeting ISIS Leader


We're going to turn now to someone whose life was directly affected by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and the rise of ISIS. James Foley was an American journalist covering the civil war in Syria. In 2012, he was captured in northern Syria by ISIS and held captive for nearly two years. Then, in 2014, he was killed in a gruesome manner, beheaded in what would become something of a signature of the Islamic State. He was the first American to be killed by ISIS.

In his honor and name, his mother, Diane Foley, created the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, which advocates for the safe return of American hostages abroad and the protection of journalists. And she's with us now from her home via Skype. Diane Foley, thank you so much for speaking with us, today.

DIANE FOLEY: My pleasure, Michel.

MARTIN: How are you reacting to today's events?

FOLEY: Well, we're very grateful, Michel. We have to be. I'm very grateful to President Trump, our intelligence community and the military for following and finding al-Baghdadi and stopping him. He obviously wanted to continue to regroup and continue his reign of terror. So it is a blow to ISIS. And I'm very grateful we had the U.S. troops in country to make that happen.

MARTIN: Can I ask you, though, today, what does this - does this bring up anything for you? I mean, I know, you know, the word closure is so controversial. People think - some people think it's ridiculous. Some people think it actually kind of captures something or says something. Does the death of this person who caused your son's death - does this bring anything for you? Does it end anything for you? Does it - what does it bring up for you?

FOLEY: Well, it protects others from whatever he was planning to do, certainly. The thing that would bring me the most solace is those ISIS fighters who have been captured - I would like them to be brought to trial in a federal criminal court here in the U.S. I'm grateful that two alleged jihadists - Kodi (ph) and al-Sheikh (ph) - are in fact in U.S. custody. And I'm hoping they'll be brought to trial. But there are thousands of others. And I feel it's very important that the international community holds them responsible by bringing them to trial and, if convicted, put away for the rest of their lives.

MARTIN: Had you hoped that al-Baghdadi might be captured alive so that he could face trial?

FOLEY: Oh, yes, he would've been able to answer so many questions. But it appears he detonated himself. He didn't want that to happen, so he wanted to be a martyr for his cause I'm sure. So, obviously, that would've been the best. The more we can take into custody and bring to trial, the better. However, as - you can see from the prisons that it's hard to find the will to bring them to trial. And there's a lot of blocks in that regard. But I feel that is necessary - to actually stop terrorism is to bring these folks who inflicted such terror to trial and hold them accountable for their horrific deeds.

MARTIN: So before we let you go, how does this - how does the work of the Foley Foundation proceed? Does the - does al-Baghdadi's death affect the work of the foundation in any way?

FOLEY: Well, any time we can capture people who are promoting hostage-taking, which he surely was, that is a win. He was using human victims to inflict this terror on the country and the citizens in that area. So, yes, of course that's a help. I would just implore that our administration might give a higher priority to innocent Americans when they're first taken hostage to maybe hopefully prevent some of the horrific crime. So - but I certainly applaud today's victory. It is a victory for the free world.

MARTIN: That was Diane Foley. She's the president and founder of the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation. She's the mother of the slain U.S. journalist, James Foley, who was killed by ISIS in 2014. She was with us today via Skype. Diane Foley, thank you so much for talking with us.

FOLEY: Thank you so much, Michel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.