James Foley's Mom Says Son's Location Known 6 Months Prior, But Nothing Done Until Too Late

American journalist, James Foley's mother, Diane Foley.
American journalist, James Foley's mother, Diane Foley. | (Photo: Screen Grab via CNN)

The parents of slain American journalist James Foley claim they knew the location of their son and 17 other hostages being held by Islamic State militants in Syria over six months before the U.S. government attempted to rescue the hostages.

In separate interviews with BBC News and BBC Radio 4 on Monday and Tuesday, Diane and John Foley offered that they feel that the U.S. government could have done more to save their son as it wasn't until 21 months after his capture that U.S. special forces finally attempted an extraction raid. The Foleys also said that the government failed keep the family informed about what was being done to save their son and additionally expressed concern with the federal policies that don't allow families to negotiate with terrorists.

With no idea as to what was being done by the U.S. government to help save their son, it wasn't until after their son's beheading in August that the family received an update from the government on what was done to attempt to save their son.

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John Foley said in the BBC News interview that after their son's passing, President Barack Obama called them to offer his condolences and to tell them that the government had actually conducted an unsuccessful rescue mission in July to help save all 18 captives.

While John Foley expressed gratitude over the bravery and effort of the special forces who risked their lives to save his son, Diane Foley did not seem too impressed.

"We certainly appreciate that but it seemed much too late," Diane Foley said. "We had information on their location for about six months prior."

In the Tuesday interview with BBC Radio, John Foley further explained that Obama told the family that that the raid was unsuccessful because the special operations forces could not find the captives and assumed they had been moved to a different location.

After her husband's explanation of the unsuccessful raid, Diane Foley then quipped, "But it was undertaken 21 months after Jim was captured."

In September, the fixer that was held captive by ISIS, or ISIL, in Aleppo along with the other slain American journalist, Steven Sotloff, claimed that although he knew the location where Sotloff was being held, the U.S. government never contacted him for help after he was freed in the fall of 2013.

The Foley's were first contacted by their son's captors in a series of emails from November and December of 2013. The Foleys said those emails asked for a 100 Million Euro ($132 million) ransom or the government's release "of all muslim prisoners" in return for Foley's release. They added they did not receive another email from the captors until a week before their son's death.

The Foleys claim that, judging from the language of the emails, they seemed directed toward the U.S. government and not the family. The family claims that although the email asked for money, they felt as though the captors were really looking to negotiate with the U.S. government. Although they said they forwarded the emails to the FBI, Mrs. Foley said the FBI did very little to help them form a reply they were confident with.

"We were left as a family to answer the emails," Mrs. Foley said. "Our FBI reviewed them, and might add a word or two, but we were doing the negotiating and we needed the experts to do it for us. We didn't know what we were doing. They didn't want to talk to us. All the emails were very insulting and directed at our government."

As the government did very little to keep them in the loop regarding the overall plans to help free their son, the Foleys said they felt they had no other option to help their son besides organizing a pledge effort designed raise the money needed to pay the ransom.

"The truth is they never told us any information," Mrs. Foley said. "We went through periods where we were very trusting and hopeful. But we have no evidence, except for the one very unsuccessful raid this summer that anything was done."

With the family raising the money looking to pay the ransom, Diane Foley claimed last month they were threatened by a White House official three times who told them that paying ransom to terrorists groups is strictly illegal and that they would be prosecuted if they do. The White House claims they were informing the Foleys of what the law states, not threatening them with prosecution.

Mr. Foley was very adamant in the BBC Radio interview that non-negotiation policies prevalent in the U.S. and United Kingdom not only deter prospective journalists and humanitarian aid workers from providing their valuable services but also essentially "condemn" citizens held captive worldwide.

"If we continue with a current policy of non-negotiation and non-payment than we are basically condemning our citizens, the best of America, the best of Great Britain, to death," Foley said.

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