James Foley parents say US and UK governments 'are condemning citizens to death' by non-negotiation policy

Couple say they were forced to negotiate with Isis alone

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The Independent Online

The parents of murdered American journalist James Foley say the US and UK are "condemning its citizens to death" with their policy of not negotiating with terrorists.

Diane and John Foley are calling on both governments to review their policies on hostage situations after their son was beheaded by Isis (also known as Islamic State) militants.

Unlike some Western countries, the US and UK have a stated policy of not paying ransom to kidnappers.

The couple implored both America and Britain to re-think their policies on paying ransoms and negotiating with terrorists, "to see if they are serving the people".

Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Foley said: “If we continue with a current policy of non-negotiation and non-payment, we are basically condemning our citizens – the best of America, the best of Great Britain – to death.

 

“If this policy continues both here in Great Britain and the United States, we are going to be relegated to buying news and information about these incidents from countries that protect their journalists and aid workers in a more intensive way."

They spoke days after Isis fighters beheaded a second British man, aid worker Alan Henning, the fourth in a series of brutal murders directly in response to US and UK air strikes in Iraq and Syria.

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Ms Foley said they received emails from their son’s captors but were given little guidance on how to reply, saying: “We were left as a family to write the emails. Our FBI reviewed them and might add a word or two, but we were doing the attempt at negotiating and we needed experts to do it for us - we didn't know what we were doing, they [Isis} didn't want to talk to us."

The couple also claimed they were only informed of failed US-led attempts to rescue him after his death, when they received a phone call from President Obama.

Mr Foley said his family did not receive any information on what was being done to free James, saying: "We were told that was classified. […] They could not tell us anything."

Mr and Mrs Foley also appeared on BBC News on Monday evening, where they said that towards the end, they began trying to raise money for a ransom because they had no idea what measures the US was taking to secure James’s release – despite being warned they would be prosecuted.

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“Well finally, at the end, it appeared that was the way that everyone was getting out,” Ms Foley explained. “So as a family, we had legal council and we started accepting pledges in hopes that we could negotiate as a family, because we didn’t know if our government was negotiating at all.”

Ms Foley said they had information on the journalist’s whereabouts for six months prior to his death.

Mr Foley added: “We were hoping that experts were in charge and doing whatever was necessary, to make this happen [secure his release]. I personally think that everybody underestimated the Isis group.”

Mr and Ms Foley also expressed regret they did were not more public after Isis threatened their son’s life, telling the programme: “We feel we should have stayed more public about his situation, otherwise in our big country with so many issues it was very easy to have him and the others totally forgotten."

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