A brother of slain American journalist James Foley said Friday the U.S. government could have done more to help him escape the militant group Islamic State, also known as ISIS, which had demanded a $132 million ransom before beheading him in a grisly video released this week.
“There’s more that could have been done directly on Jim’s behalf,” said Michael Foley, 38, in an interview with Yahoo Global News anchor Katie Couric.
“I really, really hope that in some ways, Jim’s death pushes us to take another look at our approach, our policy to terrorist and hostage negotiations, and rethink that.”
This spring, the militants released four French and two Spanish journalists, reportedly for large ransoms.
In an emotional interview at the family’s home in New Hampshire, Foley and his sister, 26-year-old Katie Foley, spoke about the condolences and messages of support that have poured in since their brother’s death, including a call from Pope Francis.
In the months before Foley’s death, his family and GlobalPost, which had hired him as a freelancer, had hoped to negotiate his release, raising funds for the ransom the militants demanded despite a government policy that bars negotiating with terrorists. But on Aug. 12, they received another email, a message to the U.S. government that threatened to execute the journalist in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq.
Michael Foley expressed his frustrations with the government’s approach to dealing with American captives.
“You could accomplish both things. The United States could have done more on behalf of the Western and American hostages over there and still dealt with broader worldwide issues, and other nations have done that,” he said, adding that the militants had also demanded the release of several prisoners held by U.S. authorities.
“We are sitting on prisoners, for example, in Guantanamo. It doesn’t even have to be financial,” Foley said. “I just feel strongly that more can be done moving forward.”
Foley also said he hopes the government will “take some action quickly” on behalf of Steven J. Sotloff, another captive American journalist whom the militants have threatened to kill next unless the U.S. halts airstrikes against the Islamic State in northern Iraq.
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