TODAY   |  October 17, 2013

Parents of journalist missing in Syria plead for his return

It’s been one year since freelance journalist James Foley went missing after crossing the border into Syria. His parents, Diane and John, tell TODAY’s Matt Lauer they had no idea that their ordeal would drag on for a year, and plead James’ captors to have mercy on him.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>> back at 8:40. journalists covering syria put their lives on the line, this man has been miss aghayere after crossing the border. his parents john and diane foley are brigg attention to their son's case.

>> thank you, matt.

>> i was thinking, did you ever allow yourselves to think a year ago this could drag on a year?

>> no idea. we have no idea. tomorrow is jim 's birthday. he'll be 40-years-old tomorrow. so if he can hear us, we'd like to wish him a happy birthday and let him know how hard we are working to bring him home.

>> has there been any word? have you had credible tips? are there back channel communications we often hearant going on, mr. foley?

>> there are a lot of people trying to help us. i can't mention anybody specifically to help them in this investigation. we have heard nothing. we blast news he was ab ducked on thanksgiving -- abducted on thanksgiving day . we don't know who took him or why.

>> what do you know about that area? i am sure you must be doing tons of research?

>> we know the area is under contest, if you will. there are both rebel forces there as well as government forces. so it's an unsettled area.

>> we have no idea who has jim . we have no idea who took him and why because jim is an objective journalist, very interested in the syrian people , wanting to, you know, cover the conflict and hear their story.

>> i'm watching you sit here and talk about this. you have been through this before.

>> the last time was just easier. it was only 44 days. he was in libya , he was held captive in libya .

>> but your son has a very dangerous job. have you talked about it a lot?

>> he's not reckless. i mean, he's been doing this conflict reporting for almost eight years, in iraq and afghanistan and in libya and now syria . as you well know, it's a very dangerous business as exampled by mr. richard engel . so he's taken whatever precautions have been available and it's his passion to want to report the story to bring some of those dangerous situations.

>> diana, i was thinking of you last night, both of you, i will ask you about this. i am sure there must have been a thousand times over the last year you have played out a conversation you would like to have with the people who are holding him, if you could stand in front of them and tell them about your son and about what his absence has meant a to your family. have you had those mock conversations?

>> oh, yes. we really, there are a lot of people suffering in syria . our son is one of many. jim and austin tice are two americans named. there are others, many western journalist, syrians, they're suffering on all sides so we just ask his captors to recognize his innocence and his desire to help the syrian people and to please have mercy and let him be free.

>> diane and john foley , we'll keep james' story in front of the public.

>> we appreciate that and anyone who has any information, if they could go to find james thank you, matt. so appreciate it.