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A father’s plea: No martyrdom for British ISIS fighters

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James Foley

ROCHESTER, N.H. — The father of slain journalist James Foley hopes two recently captured extremists will be put on trial and sentenced to life in prison.

U.S. officials recently confirmed the capture of two Britons who were part of a notorious Islamic State cell that tortured and beheaded Foley and more than two dozen other hostages. Foley, 40, was kidnapped in 2012 and killed in August 2014. He grew up in New Hampshire, where his father called the recent news bittersweet.

“Obviously, it’s not going to bring Jimmy back,” John Foley told WMUR-TV .

“Everybody needs to be responsible for their actions, and we as a family and as a country have a need for justice,” he said in calling for a trial.

“The death penalty would make them martyrs, which is what they would want, so I would prefer that they spend the rest of their lives in jail,” he said.

U.S. officials have confirmed that El Shafee Elsheikh and Alexanda Amon Kotey, who grew up in London before traveling to the Middle East, were captured in early January in eastern Syria. They are alleged to have been part of the four-man IS cell dubbed “The Beatles” because of their British accents.

In 2011, Foley was held by government forces in Libya while covering that country’s civil war. Another journalist — South African photographer Anton Hammerl — was shot during their capture and left to die in the desert. Foley and another journalist were released after six weeks. At the time of his kidnapping in Syria, he had been in the country contributing videos to Agence France-Press.

Since her son’s death, Foley’s mother, Diane, has created the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation to advocate for the release of American hostages and help keep journalists reporting in conflict zones safe.

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