Did Washington Want James Foley Dead? Reporter's Family Cites Government Threats
September 12, 2014
James Nye / The Daily Mail
In his Wednesday night White House speech, the president justified his call for military escalation in Iraq by citing ISIS' "acts of barbarism -- they took the lives of two American journalists -- Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.' Foley's parents have complained to the press that their attempts to bring their son home did not 'seem to be in [Washington's] strategic interest.' Throughout the 20-month ordeal, Mrs. Foley she came to see her family's efforts to rescue James as 'an annoyance' to the administration. At one point the Foleys were threatened with prosecution if they attempted to pay a ransom to free their son.
'As an American I'm Embarrassed and Appalled':
James Foley's mother hits out at Obama's efforts to rescue her son and claims she was threatened with prosecution if family paid ransom
James Nye / The Daily Mail
LONDON (September 11, 2014) -- The mother of James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by ISIS, spoke tonight of her deep disappointment felt towards the Obama administration for their handling of his time as a prisoner of the terror group, saying, 'I really feel our country let Jim down.'
On the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and the day after President Obama addressed the nation and finally offered a strategy to defeat ISIS, Diane Foley told CNN that 'as an American', she was 'embarrassed and appalled' at the efforts to rescue her son from captivity.
Articulate and thoughtful throughout her interview, Mrs. Foley made the startling claim that US officials threatened her family with prosecution if they tried to raise a ransom for Foley, 40, and said 'Jim was sacrificed because of a lack of communication and prioritization.'
And in a thinly veiled attack on Obama's new strategy to 'degrade and destroy' ISIS she said that meeting violence with more violence may not be the answer and said, 'bombing caused Jim's death.'
'Jim was killed in the most horrific way. He was sacrificed because of just a lack of coordination, lack of communication, lack of prioritization,' said Diane Foley. 'As a family, we had to find our way through this on our own.'
Still grieving, Diane Foley also said US officials told her they would not exchange prisoners or carry out any military action to try and rescue her son. At times withering in her assessment of the Obama administration's co-ordination with her family, Mrs. Foley poured scorn on the Pentagon's claim they tried to rescue Foley on July 4, only to raid the wrong base.
Speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Mrs. Foley said her family knew where James Foley was being held on two separate occasions in Syria, and that each time he was there for months following his capture on Thanksgiving, 2012.
She bemoaned the fact that a military option took so long to put together and felt the whole disastrous operation, which Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel surprisingly labeled 'Flawless', was in fact 'awful'.
In a damning indictment of the effort at home and abroad to rescue Foley, who was kidnapped in northern Syria while working for GlobalPost, Mrs. Foley said that the FBI were asking her family for information on her eldest son.
'We tended to know everything before the FBI or anyone else.... Everyone was kind and supportive, but the FBI used us for information,' she said. Asked why this was, Mrs. Foley said, 'Because we did everything we could.'
Throughout the 20-month ordeal, Mrs. Foley said she came to regard her and her family's efforts to rescue James as 'an annoyance' to the administration and began to feel that their desperation to bring James Foley home did not 'seem to be in the strategic interest, if you will.'
On August 19, ISIS released a gruesome video online, which showed the beheading of Foley by a masked ISIS militant, who told the camera in a British accent, that his 'real killer' was the United States.
Exactly two weeks later, another American journalist, Stephen Sotloff, was beheaded, apparently by the same man, who tells the camera, 'I'm back Obama'.
During the efforts to get James home, Mrs. Foley said she met good people, people who wanted to help, but was adamant that she didn't want to single anyone out and lay 'blame'. Mrs. Foley said it was important to remember that ISIS is the enemy and not the United States. However, ultimately, she 'didn't feel that Jim was a priority.'
'We were just told to trust that he would be freed somehow, miraculously,' said Foley's mother to CNN. 'And he wasn't, was he?'
Speaking to CNN's Anderson Cooper, Diane Foley said that she felt cut off at every avenue by US officials and [the Foleys] were threatened with prosecution should they try to pay for her son's return -- a move that left her feeling 'horrified'.
Still startled by this aggressive enforcement of official US policy, Mrs. Foley said she couldn't believe it because 'no one has ever been prosecuted for trying to get their child back.'
Mrs. Foley said that, of course, she had watched the president's address to the nation on Wednesday night, but said that the US needs to reconsider its position on negotiating with terrorists.
'I pray that our government will be willing to learn from the mistakes that were made,' she said to CNN, 'and to acknowledge that there are better ways for American citizens to be treated. This whole strategy to eliminate ISIS and the terror threat is important, obviously, so perhaps part of the strategic way of doing that is to bomb them, and to engage in force. But that only caused Jim's death,' she said. 'I guess all I'm trying to say is that our government needs to be shrewder, smarter, willing to negotiate with these people who hate us, so that we can find better ways to rid ourselves of terror.'
On Wednesday night from the White House, the president said of ISIS, 'They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists -- Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff.'
Three weeks after Foley's death, the president finally outlined his strategy to defeat ISIS, after weeks of mixed messages, including admitting at one point that he had 'no strategy' for the militant group.
In response, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said that she felt the Foley family had done an 'amazing job… to bring Jim home safely' and that she 'and others in the US government worked very hard with Diane Foley and her family to try to be supportive, to try to provide what information we could.'
She denied the mission to rescue him was a failure, despite the special forces team assaulting completely the wrong ISIS camp.
'Unfortunately, they were no longer there,' said Rice. 'But I think that effort ... underscores the importance that we attach to doing everything that we possibly can to bring Americans in captivity back home.'
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