American journalist James Foley is missing in Syria after being kidnapped six weeks ago, his family announced Wednesday. According to witnesses, the 39-year-old freelancer was taken by unidentified gunmen on Thanksgiving Day in Idlib, the same turbulent northwest Syrian province where NBC foreign chief foreign affairs correspondent Richard Engel was kidnapped last month. Engel and his team were freed on December 18th. Foley's condition is unknown.
"We want Jim to come safely home, or at least we need to speak with him to know he's OK," Foley's father, John Foley, said in a press release. The family has set up a website, freejamesfoley.org, and Facebook page to publicize his situation. This isn't the first time Foley, who has contributed to the AFP, news website GlobalPost and U.S. TV stations, has encountered trouble while reporting abroad. In 2011 he spent 44 days in captivity after being captured by pro-Qaddafi fighters in Libya.
Foley had set off toward the border in a car about an hour before his capture. A witness, a Syrian, later recounted over the phone to a journalist in Turkey that an unmarked car intercepted Foley. The witness said men holding kalashnikovs shot into the air and forced Jim out of the car.
The witness said he noticed nothing that would indicate whether the aggressors were rebel fighters, individuals looking for a ransom, members of a pro-government militia, or a religious-based group with other motivations.
Hopefully, Foley's experience in such situations will be useful to him, and he will be released and reunited in good health with his family very soon.