In 2014, New Hampshire journalist James Foley was executed by militants of the Islamic State group in Syria. Years later, Diane Foley confronted one of her son's killers. Now she has released a book with author Colum McCann, titled "American Mother," detailing that experience.

In October 2021, in a private room of a Virginia federal courthouse, Foley came face-to-face with Alexanda Kotey, one of the men responsible for beheading her son. She said she believed her son would've wanted her to meet Kotey and "hear him out."

"Jim worked with many young felons and young men like Alexanda, who'd had a tough childhood and were led astray, if you will" she said in an interview on Boston Public Radio Monday. "I also wanted to tell Alexanda about Jim ... because I feel that we must talk to people who we don't agree with or dislike."

Author McCann, who reached out to Diane Foley after seeing a photo of James reading one of his books, was also there for the meeting. He said Diane Foley showed "extraordinary courage."

"Diane walked into this big, empty room in a courthouse — but it was full of prosecutors, defense people, security guards, court clerks — and she sat down not 4 feet from her son's killer," he recalled. "And the first thing she said is, 'Hi, Alexanda.' And she said, 'It is nice to meet you.'"

She saw Kotey three times in total: two hourlong sessions in October 2021, and once around the end of the trial in 2022.

"It was not easy to go see him, and I just prayed for God's grace to be able to see him as a human being that he is, who made some terrible mistakes," she recalled. "... And it was a grace-filled time. He did express a lot of remorse."

Kotey pleaded guilty to all eight counts of kidnapping, torture and accessory to murder, and was sentenced to eight concurrent terms of life imprisonment on April 29, 2022.

Following her son's death, Diane Foley founded James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, which advocates for Americans who are held hostage abroad and for the safety of journalists.

With her book, she wants to make people wary of risks abroad, but also to inspire courage.

"I just want Americans to be aware of the threats to any American traveling internationally, to also value the risky work of freelancers and journalists ... and also to inspire all of us, challenge us to be people of moral courage," she said. "Our nation needs us to do what is right and to realize that ordinary people can make a huge difference for others."