Report: James Foley’s captors originally asked for huge ransom
The captors of American journalist James Foley originally demanded a ransom of 100 million euros ($132.5 million), the chief executive of a news website he worked for told The Wall Street Journal.
Philip Balboni, the president and chief executive of GlobalPost, told the newspaper that the sum was demanded from both Foley’s family and GlobalPost.
Balboni declined to discuss their reply to the demand, saying all communication was shared with appropriate government authorities, The Journal reported Thursday.
The Islamic extremist group ISIS, which controls large areas of Syria and Iraq, published a video Tuesday showing the beheading of Foley, a 40-year-old originally from New Hampshire.
A militant who appears in the video links the killing to the U.S. intervention in Iraq against ISIS, which refers to itself as the Islamic State. He says the fate of another American journalist shown in the footage, believed to be Steven Sotloff, depends on what U.S. President Barack Obama does next.
But the threat has done little to curb U.S. military operations in Iraq, with American warplanes continuing airstrikes against ISIS targets.
Calling ISIS a “cancer,” Obama said Wednesday that the United States “will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and civility.”
U.S. officials revealed that they had tried to rescue Foley and other captives in a special military operation in Syria earlier this summer. But the special forces failed to find the hostages.
‘Vitriolic and filled with rage’
Messages from Foley’s captors began last fall, Balboni said Wednesday.
Foley, a freelance journalist, was on assignment when he disappeared on November 22, 2012, in northwest Syria, near the border with Turkey.
“The captors never messaged a lot. There was a very limited number with a very specific purpose. … They made demands,” Balboni said.
Some messages were political and some were financial.
Then last week, his family received an e-mail saying he would be killed.
“The message was vitriolic and filled with rage against the United States. It was deadly serious,” Balboni said.
“Obviously, we hoped and prayed that would not be the case. … Sadly, they showed no mercy.”
Foley’s family, according to Balboni, responded in an e-mail, pleading for mercy and asking for more time.
They did not hear back.
The captors showed no mercy, Foley’s father, John, told reporters on Wednesday, breaking down in tears.
“We beg compassion and mercy” for the other American journalist shown in the video, John Foley said. Sotloff, a contributor to Time and Foreign Policy magazines, was kidnapped at the Syria-Turkey border in 2013.
“They never hurt anybody,” John Foley said. “They were trying to help. There is no reason for their slaughter.”
Failed rescue attempt
The U.S. rescue attempt earlier this summer involved several dozen elite commandos from units like Delta Force and Navy SEAL Team 6 who flew in aboard helicopters, the U.S. official told CNN.
“Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said Wednesday.
Several ISIS operatives were killed in the special operation earlier this summer that tried to rescue Foley and others, the U.S. official said. No U.S. personnel were killed, but one was slightly wounded. Fighters jets and surveillance aircraft provided overhead protection to the troops.
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