Overcoming evil with good


How would it feel to sit in front of the man responsible for the murder of your son? The one who took his freedom, crushed his spirit, and then took his life, circulating the evidence as part of a grotesque PR stunt? What would you say to him if you had the chance? Could you find it in your heart to forgive him? Diane Foley’s son Jim was captured in Syria in 2014 where he was reporting on the war. The Isis cell nicknamed “The Beatles” held Jim captive for two years, before torturing and beheading him.

Diane met Korey in Virginia where he is being held. Korey is from London and was one of the four members of the Isis cell. Diane had three conversations with Korey, who agreed to meet with families of his victims as part of plea deal. Diane said, “I felt nervous. I felt that it was something Jim would have wanted me to do, he would not have wanted us to be afraid of him, and I wanted him to understand who Jim was.”

Diane said her main preparation was prayer. She is a committed Catholic Christian, as was Jim, who according to other hostages relied on his faith to get through his time in captivity. Diane said, “I talked to my God. My faith is my rock.” Above all Diane prayed that she would be able to be merciful and reasonable. She said, “I wanted to see him as a person and to look for opportunities to tell him who Jim was.”

In the first meeting Kotey denied being involved in Jim’s death and tried to justify what had happened. Diane challenged him, “What I really wanted to show was the tragic irony, that the people the jihadists hated so much had deep compassion. The aid workers and journalists were there because they wanted to show the world the suffering that was going on.” The second meeting was better. Diane said, “We were both more relaxed. He expressed quite a bit of remorse, certainly for the ordeal that we’ve gone through.” Diane believes he was sincere.

Amazingly, Diane was able to feel pity for the man who tortured her son. He showed her pictures of his three children, whom he will never see again. She said, “He was a young man who really thought about things, about life and what is right or wrong. Then he made that horrible choice. I do feel sorry for him. He has lost everything, and I think he regrets what he did.” Diane Foley is a beautiful example of the Christian teaching, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”


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