SHAFAQNA – Diane Foley, the mother of beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley, criticized the Obama administration for its handling of his abduction by Islamist extremists and how officials dealt with the family. VPC
The mother and brother of beheaded U.S. journalist James Foley have criticized the Obama administration for its handling of his abduction by Islamist extremists and how officials dealt with the family.
“I really feel that our country let Jim down,” Diane Foley told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in aninterview Thursday. “As an American, I was embarrassed and appalled. I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance.”
She said it seemed from dealings with the administration that freeing her son, who was captured in Syria in 2012 and held 21 months before being executed in an Aug. 19 video, “didn’t seem to be in our strategic interest.”
“Jim was killed in the most horrific way. He was sacrificed because of just a lack of coordination, lack of communication, lack of prioritization,” she said. “As a family, we had to find our way through this on our own.
“We were just told to trust that he would be freed somehow, miraculously And he wasn’t, was he?”
Foley made similar comments Friday during an interview with Fox News’ Greta Van Susteren.
As the Rochester, N.H., family sought to raise money in hopes of getting Islamic State terrorists to free the captive, they were told repeatedly that paying ransom “was illegal” and that “we might be prosecuted.” Longstanding U.S. policy bans paying ransom to or negotiating with terrorist organizations.
James Foley’s captors had demanded $132 million, according to GlobalPost, a Boston-based news operation he had worked for.
His mother said had he survived he would have been “very passionate about the need to make kidnapped citizens a priority — a priority for our country and internationally.” Citing cases in which European governments have paid to get hostages freed, she said there needs to be consensus and “international dialogue.”
In a situation she found “frightening,” Foley said it seemed she often knew more about her son’s captivity than U.S. authorities.
“We tended to know everything before the FBI or anyone else,” she told Cooper. “I went to Europe several times to interview the European freed hostages, just so I could find out how Jim was, what’s going on, where are they, what are the chances of this or that. It was a frightening thing. … Everyone was kind and supportive, but the FBI used us for information.”
Officials told the family the administration “would not exchange prisoners” or carry out “military action” to try to rescue him. They also urged the family to not go to the media.
The Pentagon did acknowledge the U.S. military attempted to rescue Foley and another U.S. freelance journalist, Steven Sotloff, but they were gone from that location when special forces arrived this summer. Sotloff was also beheaded on video by the same Islamic State terrorist who killed Foley.
Foley’s mother said the U.S. operation came “very late. Their location was known for more than a year.”
Responding to her remarks, U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice praised the Foleys for doing “an amazing job … to try to bring Jim home safely.”
Rice told CNN she and other administration officials “worked very hard” with the Foleys “to try to be supportive, to try to provide what information we could.”
She said “hundreds of American personnel” were involved in a “very daring and very well-executed rescue operation” following “actionable intelligence” about the hostages’ location inside Syria.
“Unfortunately, they were no longer there,” Rice said. “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.”
James Foley’s younger brother, Michael, had harsh words for U.S. officials and their efforts.
“They were actually an impedance,” he said Thursday in a Fox News interview with Megyn Kelly. “They got in our way. That’s what really bothers me to the core.”
He said he was “specifically threatened” by the State Department about raising money toward the ransom demands.
“We were smart enough to look past it, but it slowed us down,” he said. “We lost a lot of time.”
Diane Foley said the family had met “wonderful people within our government who cared, who wanted to help. But the reality of the bureaucracy … was such that we were not helped. We really weren’t.
“And yet we don’t blame, I don’t want to blame, people, because that’s not going to help.”
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