SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association) The mother of slain American journalist James Foley said she wasn’t necessarily surprised that the U.S. government threatened her family with prosecution should they raise money to pay her son’s ransom, but she was astounded by how such a devastating message was delivered.
“I was surprised there was so little compassion,” Diane Foley told ABC News today of the three separate warnings she said U.S. officials gave the family about the illegality of paying ransom to the terror group ISIS. “It just made me realize that these people talking to us had no idea what it was like to be the family of someone abducted… I’m sure [the U.S. official] didn’t mean it the way he said it, but we were between a rock and a hard place. We were told we could do nothing… meanwhile our son was being beaten and tortured every day.”
Earlier this week five current and former officials with direct knowledge of the Foley case confirmed the alleged threats were made.
“It was an utterly idiotic thing to do that came across as if [the U.S. official] had the compassion of an anvil,” said a former official who has advised the family.
Diane Foley told ABC News earlier this week that warnings over the summer came primarily from a highly decorated military officer serving on the White House’s National Security Council staff. James Foley’s brother, Michael, also told ABC News that he was directly threatened with possible prosecution by a State Department official.
“It was very upsetting because we were essentially told to trust… that the way they were handling things would bring our son home,” Diane Foley said.
The U.S. government did try to rescue James Foley along with other American and European hostages from an ISIS stronghold in Syria in early July, but by the time the elite commandos arrived at the location, the hostages had been moved. Foley was executed weeks later by a self-professed ISIS militant.
Diane Foley said the family believed they knew where their son was being held prior to his execution, but other than the July rescue mission, it didn’t seem like anything was being done.
“But we’re not politicians, we’re not government people, we don’t know,” she said. Diane Foley said the problem was that the family “had no idea” because the government didn’t tell them.
At times, Diane Foley said the family “had to beg” the government for information on their son.
“We were an annoyance, it felt, at some level… They didn’t have time for us,” she said.
Today White House spokesperson Josh Earnest said that government officials were in constant contact with the Foley family and declined to comment on the alleged ransom warnings, telling reporters he’s “not going to be in a position to detail the kinds of conversations that took place so often between members of the administration and the Foley family.”
“It is a long standing policy of this administration, it was the policy of previous administrations that ransoms should not be paid to terrorist organizations,” Earnest said before referring more specific questions about the Foley’s situation to the Justice Department.