James Foley’s family published a letter from their son, providing insight into the psyche and two-year detention of the journalist whose brutal execution was shown in a video released last week.
Foley, a freelance journalist who worked throughout the Middle East, was apparently beheaded earlier this month by ISIS militants in response to the president’s air strikes in Iraq.
The letter, which was made public on Sunday, was committed to memory and relayed by another hostage who was released. It is the only form of correspondence to reach Foley’s family during his time in captivity, according to a foreword to the full text, which was published on the Free James Foley Facebook page.
It is filled with family memories, like chasing his siblings around the kitchen counter, as well as words offering and asking for support.
“I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray,” he wrote.
The letter also provides a window into a lengthy and harrowing detention. At the time, Foley wrote that he was aided by the companionship provided by the seventeen other prisoners who shared his cell.
“We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports. We have played games made up of scraps found in our cell … we have found ways to play checkers, Chess, and Risk … and have had tournaments of competition, spending some days preparing strategies for the next day’s game or lecture. The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help. We repeat stories and laugh to break the tension. I have had weak and strong days. We are so grateful when anyone is freed; but of course, yearn for our own freedom. We try to encourage each other and share strength.”
He concludes with a heart-wrenching plea to his grandmother, asking her to “take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing.”
“Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life,” he concludes.
Read the full letter below.