SDSU professor on Foley: 'He was pretty fearless'

SAN DIEGO -  The campus of San Diego State University is remembering James Foley, the American journalist reportedly beheaded by Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) militants.

The Center for Islamic and Arabic Studies invited Foley to speak on campus in February of 2012.

It was part of a series called "Understanding the Arab Spring."

"The story he was telling was like a movie,” SDSU Economics Professor Hisham Foad recalled. “It was better than a movie almost, going out there, getting captured, his life in captivity."

Foley spoke about being held captive in Libya for six weeks in the spring of 2011.

"They were just enraptured. He's a tremendous public speaker, just a really captivating personality, very genuine, very humble."

After the presentation Foad, Foley and several others went out to dinner. They talked about whether Foley would return to Libya.

"We talked a little bit about would you ever go back to those situations, and it really seemed like he was pretty fearless," Foad said.  "You got the impression that this is somebody who was always going to be in the middle of something."

Foley found himself in the middle of covering the conflict in Syria in November 2012 when he was kidnapped again, this time he was held for two years.

On Tuesday afternoon, a video was released that appears to show the 40-year-old journalist being beheaded by ISIS militants.

"That personal experience is something that you know, our students had tremendous benefit from,” Foad said. “That's what makes this so much more tragic cause I don't think there's a ton of people that do that kind of stuff and now we've lost one more "

Foley's mom, Diane Foley, released the following statement on Facebook.

"We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.

“We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.

“We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim."

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