UK & World News

  • 20 August 2014, 3:37

James Foley 'Died Doing Job He Believed In'

A friend and colleague of the US journalist apparently beheaded in a video released by militants has said he died doing something "he truly believed in".

Film maker Matthew VanDyke was with James Foley in Syria just a fortnight before the 40-year-old was abducted.

And he told Sky News he had been left in "complete shock" at reports his friend had been beheaded by Islamic State forces.

"I haven't seen the video myself, but it's a complete nightmare," he said.

"James was a fun guy. He was very nice, very calm. We had good times together, good conversations. He interviewed me when I escaped prison in Libya ... and he did a great job.

"He was very kind, very good at what he did. He had a great career ahead of him."

He said Mr Foley "lived and breathed" conflict journalism.

"It was who he was, he loved doing it," he said.

"He believed in it, believed in doing things right. What every editor would want working for them is exactly who James was.

"One thing that you can say is he died doing something he truly believed in and that he was making a difference there."

MrVanDyke insisted Mr Foley was conscious of the dangers he faced in war-torn Syria.

"He was always aware of the risks," he said.

"He was always very serious when it came to work.

"He was not someone who did anything reckless, or cowboy things. He always checked on the security ahead of him.

"He did everything the right way, but even when you do everything the right way in Syria, things can go the wrong way."

But Mr VanDyke said the arrival of IS - previously known as ISIS - had drastically changed the nature of the conflict in Syria.

"There was always a threat of kidnapping, border strikes, airstrikes, it was always dangerous," he said.

"Ever since the arrival of ISIS in the spring of 2013, it's become a complete nightmare for journalists.

"People go there and they just disappear and they're never heard from again. It's like a black hole."