The parents of James Foley say not only did the U.S. fail to do enough to save their son, but senior officials threatened them with prosecution if they tried to raise his ransom money.
FOLEY VIA FOX NEWS: “We had no other alternatives. We began to raise ransom. We were told that we might be prosecuted. Big deal. I’d rather be in a prison here than my son being in a prison over there.”
The Foleys made similar comments to other networks, including ABC, which cited five current and former U.S. officials who confirmed the threats were made.
Same story from the family of Steven Sotloff — the other American journalist beheaded by ISIS.
A spokesperson for his parents to Yahoo, The Sotloffs “heard the same thing the Foleys did.”
BRYAN CUNNINGHAM, FORMER NSC OFFICIAL VIA CNN: “Threatening someone with a criminal prosecution when they’re trying to save their child is not only, in my opinion reprehensible, it’s counterproductive.”
The U.S. State Department responded to criticism like that, saying it never pressured the Foley family, only informed them of the U.S.'s anti-terrorism laws.
MARIE HARF, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: "It’s part of our job to help the family understand what our laws are about terrorists paying — or paying ransom to terrorists? Absolutely. But this Department would never and did not ever intend to nor do we think we ever did anything that we would consider threatening.”
Demanding ransoms for kidnapping foreigners is a major source of revenue for ISIS thanks to many Western European nations who have made behind the scenes deals with the group to free hostages. (Video via Channel 4)
The U.S. government, on the other hand, has a hard-line policy of neither negotiating nor making ransom payments to terrorists. But it did launch a high-risk special operations mission to rescue Foley and other hostages in July — which proved to be unsuccessful.
The Foley family has launched the James W. Foley Legacy Fund to support other families who have loved ones taken hostage by terrorists. The Committee to Protect Journalists estimates 20 other journalists are missing in Syria.
This video contains images from Getty Images, FreeJamesFoley.org / Manu Brabo, FreeJamesFoley.org / Nicole Tung.