Mother of slain American journalist James Foley ‘appalled’ by U.S. handling of case
(CNN) — The mother of James Foley — an American journalist beheaded by ISIL militants — said she is “embarrassed and appalled” by how the U.S. government dealt with her son’s case, telling CNN that officials even suggested family members could be charged if they raised ransom to free him.
“I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance” to the U.S. government, Diane Foley told CNN’s Anderson Cooper, in an interview. “It didn’t seem to be in (U.S.) strategic interest, if you will.”
Officials told Foley family members “not go to the media,” and that the “government would not exchange prisoners,” or carry out “military action” to try to rescue her son, according to Diane Foley.
She added that the family was told many times that raising ransom “was illegal (and) we might be prosecuted.”
“We were just told to trust that he would be freed somehow, miraculously,” Foley’s mother said. “And he wasn’t, was he?”
In fact, video posted online on Aug. 19 showed James Foley kneeling next to a man dressed in black, reading a presumably scripted message that his “real killer” is America, then being summarily executed. ISIL — the Islamist extremist group that’s taken over large swaths of Syria and Iraq in its quest to create a far-reaching caliphate under its strict version of Sharia law — took credit for Foley’s beheading, they said in response to U.S. airstrikes in Iraq and threatened more killings.
Immediately afterward, Diane Foley wrote on the Free James Foley Facebook page that “we have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syria.”
That love for her son was evident still Tuesday, but so was Diane’s disappointment that more wasn’t done — especially by the U.S. government — to secure his release, somehow, since his November 22, 2012, disappearance in northwest Syria. At the time he was working for U.S.-based online news outlet GlobalPost.
“Jim would have been saddened” by the U.S. government’s efforts in the years after his abduction, his mother told CNN’s Cooper. “Jim believed, till the end, that his country would come to (his) aid.”
Upon hearing these comments, U.S. national security adviser Susan Rice — after praising the Foley family for doing “an amazing job … to try to bring Jim home safely” — said she “and others in the U.S. government worked very hard with Diane Foley and her family to try to be supportive, to try to provide what information we could.”
Rice also pointed out “hundreds of American personnel” were involved in a “very daring and very well executed rescue operation” to free Foley and other captives, after getting what they hoped was “actionable intelligence” about the location of the hostages. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby has said elite U.S. commandos undertook this mission this summer inside Syria.
“Unfortunately, they were no longer there,” Rice, a former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told CNN. “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.”
Diane Foley, though, thinks Washington should change its approach to cases like that of her son and Steven Sotloff, another American journalist beheaded by ISIS weeks after James Foley.
“I pray that our government will be willing to learn from the mistakes that were made,” she said, “and to acknowledge that there are better ways for American citizens to be treated.”