Mourning family of murdered US reporter James Foley prays for fellow hostages

People leave the Our Lady of the Rosary Church after a special mass in remembrance of James Foley August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Journalist James Foley was recently executed by Islamic militants. -- PHOTO: AFP 
People leave the Our Lady of the Rosary Church after a special mass in remembrance of James Foley August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Journalist James Foley was recently executed by Islamic militants. -- PHOTO: AFP 
John Foley (second from left) and Diane Foley (second from right) greet people following a special mass in remembrance of their son James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently execu
John Foley (second from left) and Diane Foley (second from right) greet people following a special mass in remembrance of their son James Foley at Our Lady of the Rosary Church for August 24, 2014 in Rochester, New Hampshire. Foley was recently executed by Islamic militants in Syria, with the militants reportedly saying it was in retaliation for US airstrikes In Iraq. -- PHOTO: AFP

ROCHESTER, United States (AFP) - The family of murdered US journalist James Foley offered prayers for the safety of is fellow hostages in Syria on Sunday as they prepared to take part in a memorial mass.

Foley's parents John and Diane Foley were joined by family-members, well-wishers and representatives of the world media for a mass in his home town of Rochester, New Hampshire.

Before the service, they told AFP that they hoped their son's legacy would be an inspiration to others supporting a free press and an end to suffering in war zones.

And they called for the safe return of other journalists kidnapped in Syria and beyond, including 31-year-old Steven Sotloff, another American freelance reporter who was held with Foley and has been threatened with death.

"James stood for love and hope," Diane Foley told AFP at the family's suburban home, where James' brothers and sister had gathered.

"He went to Syria to bear witness to the suffering there so that the people of the world could first be aware and then do something to alleviate that suffering."

The couple said that they were seeking to set up a charitable foundation in James' name to support protection for freelance journalists in the field, and that his alma mater Marquette University was creating a scholarship.

And they said that the example of James' life example served as a challenge, to them and to others, to do more to spread what John Foley said was James' support for his "concern for his fellow man."

They recalled that, along with his journalism for outlets like GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse, Foley had raised funds for an ambulance for Syrian civilians and for the family of his colleague South African photo journalist Anton Hammerl, who was killed in Libya.

Foley was seized by armed men in northern Syria in 2012 and on Monday the jihadist group known as the Islamic State released a video in which he was beheaded by a masked militant.

Sotloff, a freelance reporter from Miami who had written for Time, Foreign Policy and other news magazines, was paraded alive in the video and threatened with death unless the United States' halts its airstrikes against the group.

US strikes have continued, however, and world intelligence agencies are attempting to identify the militant who killed Foley, who spoke in English with a London accent.

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