Before Killing James Foley, ISIS Demanded Ransom From U.S.
Well, well, it now turns out that despite the original statement broadcast to the world before a member of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria beheaded American freelance journalist James Foley that the group was sending a message to the United States and President Barack Obama, the group that is bringing back the bad ‘ol days memories of World War II and a certain mustachioed dictator had another reason: the United States had refused to pay a ransom.
So they killed — or, rather, butchered — their victim. The New York Times:
Kneeling in the dirt in a desert somewhere in the Middle East, James Foley lost his life this week at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Before pulling out the knife used to decapitate him, his masked executioner explained that he was killing the 40-year-old American journalist in retaliation for the recent United States’ airstrikes against the terrorist group in Iraq.
In fact, until recently, ISIS had a very different list of demands for Mr. Foley: The group pressed the United States to provide a multimillion-dollar ransom for his release, according to a representative of his family and a former hostage held alongside him. The United States — unlike several European countries that have funneled millions to the terror group to spare the lives of their citizens — refused to pay.
And there could be more murders. SEVERAL MORE:
The issue of how to deal with ISIS, which like many terror groups now routinely trades captives for large cash payments, is acute for the Obama administration because Mr. Foley was not the lone American in its custody. ISIS is threatening to kill at least three others it holds if its demands remain unmet, The New York Times has confirmed through interviews with recently released prisoners, family members of the victims and mediators attempting to win their freedom.
The tragedy — and challenge to American policy makers and the American military — may be far from over. A new bloody chapter — and Internet video — could well be unveiled soon:
ISIS also appears determined to increase the pressure on Washington. It has now threatened to kill a second hostage, Steven J. Sotloff, a freelance journalist for Time magazine who is being held alongside Mr. Foley.
In a video of the execution of Mr. Foley that was uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday, the screen goes dark after he is decapitated. Then the ISIS fighter who killed him is seen holding Mr. Sotloff, wearing an orange jumpsuit and his with his hands cuffed behind his back, in the same landscape of barren dunes. “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”
And capitulation to ISIS’ demands is a non-starter.
Be sure to READ THIS take run earlier on TMV, before Foley’s death.
David Rohde, a Reuters investigative reporter and contributing editor to The Atlantic, says the United States and Europe failed Foley:
Somewhere in the desert of eastern Syria, a militant from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria beheaded the American journalist James Foley this week. The killer and his terrorist group are responsible for Foley’s death. They should be the focus of public anger.
But Foley’s execution is also a chilling wake-up call for American and European policymakers, as well as U.S. news outlets and aid organizations. It is the clearest evidence yet of how vastly different responses to kidnappings by U.S. and European governments save European hostages but can doom the Americans. Hostages and their families realize this fully—even if the public does not…
….This spring, four French and two Spanish journalists held hostage by Islamic State extremists were freed—after the French and Spanish governments paid ransoms through intermediaries. The U.S. government refused to negotiate or pay a ransom in Foley’s case or for any other American captives—including my own abduction by the Taliban five years ago. With the help of an Afghan journalist abducted with me, I was lucky enough to escape. But today Foley is dead and Islamic State militants now say Steven Sotloff, a journalist for Time magazine whom the group also captured, will be killed if the United States does not stop bombing its fighters in Iraq.
There are no easy answers in kidnapping cases. The United States cannot allow terrorist groups to control its foreign policy. One clear lesson that has emerged in recent years, however, is that security threats are more effectively countered by united American and European action. The divergent U.S. and European approach to abductions fails to deter captors or consistently safeguard victims.
He notes that there’s a pattern in these cases which can be boiled down to this: a lot happens privately behind the scenes and the families are hopeful but frustrated.
For the first 16 months after Foley was taken captive, his family had no information regarding his whereabouts. They learned he was alive from two Spanish journalists who were freed by the Islamic State in March after a ransom was paid. In a subsequent email message, the captors instructed the family to keep the case quiet and not identify the Islamic State as the kidnappers. Fearing for Foley’s life, the family obeyed. Other American families with loved ones taken captive by militants have done the same. Privately, the Foleys and other families have grown intensely frustrated with the failure of American officials to negotiate with the captors. U.S. government officials also refused to coordinate their response in any way with European governments.
In the days and weeks ahead, the Foley family will speak for themselves about their ordeal. But the payment of ransoms and abduction of foreigners must emerge from the shadows. It must be publicly debated. American and European policymakers should be forced to answer for their actions.
Foley believed that his government would help him, according to his family. In a message that was not made public, Foley said that he believed so strongly that Washington would help that he refused to allow his fellow American captives to not believe in their government.
Like every substantive issue confronting American policy makers and politicians, this issue will likely to get mired down in tiresome political polemics because red meat must be hurled to the partisan hungry and the highly lucrative political entertainment media industry must feed the beast.
But Rohde raises an issue that needs to be discussed seriously, pondered — and produce some kind of cohesive response.
It is literally a matter of life and death.