Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Foley parents hoped to negotiate

The killing of James Foley triggered debate about the US policy not to pay ransom to terrorist groups
The killing of James Foley triggered debate about the US policy not to pay ransom to terrorist groups
The Pope called Diane and John Foley, the parents of murdered US journalist James Foley (AP)

The parents of killed US journalist James Foley have said they regarded an email from his captors last week as a hopeful sign they could negotiate with the Islamic militants holding him.

John and Diane Foley from Rochester, New Hampshire, said they had last heard from the captors via several emails in December.

Mr Foley said he was excited to see the latest email, even though it threatened execution, because he hoped the militants would be willing to negotiate.

"I underestimated that point. I did not realise how brutal they were," he told NBC's Today.

His 40-year-old son was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012. In the last email, his Islamic State captors demanded 132.5 million (£80 million) from his parents and political concessions from Washington. Authorities say neither obliged.

The militants revealed James Foley's death in a video released on Tuesday. The extremists said they killed him in retaliation for US airstrikes targeting Islamic State positions in northern Iraq.

His parents said they had set up a special email address and sent multiple messages to try to engage the captors.

"We were just anxiously waiting," Mrs Foley said.

In New Hampshire, Governor Maggie Hassan has directed flags to fly at half-mast in honour of James Foley on Sunday, the day a church service is planned in remembrance of him.

"An unconscionable act of terror took him from us far too soon, but his unyielding commitment to advancing our cherished First Amendment right across the globe and the truths he unveiled will live on forever," she said.

Earlier, it emerged that Pope Francis had spoken to the Foley family by phone. Vatican spokesman the Rev Federico Lombardi confirmed the pope telephoned Mr and Mrs Foley.

The Vatican usually describes such personal calls by the pontiff as private without revealing the contents of the conversations.

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