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Friday, February 13, 2015

Parents Of Slain Hostage Ask The U.S. To Do More

Diane and John Foley, parents of journalist James Foley, sit for a portrait at their home during an interview August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. (Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images)

Diane and John Foley, parents of journalist James Foley, sit for a portrait at their home during an interview August 24, 2014, in Rochester, New Hampshire. (Dominick Reuter/AFP/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, we spoke to the parents of Austin Tice, a former marine and freelance journalist kidnapped in Syria in 2012. Marc and Debra Tice said they’ve received little assistance from the Syrian and U.S. governments in securing the safe release of their son.

American freelance journalist James Foley is pictured in November 2012 while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. (Nicole Tung/freejamesfoley.org via AP)

American freelance journalist James Foley is pictured in November 2012 while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. (Nicole Tung/freejamesfoley.org via AP)

Today, Here & Now’s Robin Young is joined by the parents of James Foley, a journalist and former teacher who was killed by ISIS militants, who then released a video of the beheading.

Diane and John Foley have raised questions about the Obama administration’s attempts to free James Foley, including a failed rescue attempt in the summer.

They discuss their situation and what they think the U.S. should do, moving forward.

Interview Highlights

On U.S. hostage policy and what they’d like to see change

John: “We don’t want Jim to have died in vain. And we see some positive things, first of all, the hostage review is something positive, we’re grateful to that and to all the families that are participating in that, so that we can hopefully build an accountable inter-agency group that can actually focus on the safe return of American hostages.”

Diane: “It’s just so frustrating and so sad that we’re losing some of the best people in our countries and it’s a very, very complicated issue. We’re dealing with the worst of all evils and we have a hostage policy right now that is not very effective, and that in itself is a very complicated issue. We’re obviously saddened by Kayla’s death, and there are no words to make that right, but we’re just searching for some way that we can improve this whole process of attempting to bring valuable American hostages home.”

“We really feel strongly that as Americans we can do better… We would like a clear policy that American hostage families can understand, where our government stands and where our responsibilities are as families also, and the clarity wasn’t there.”

On ransom and the contrast with other countries’ hostage policies

“We have become very good friends with the European released hostages. They are, in a way, some of our sons.”

– John Foley

John: “We understand that money paid to terrorists wind up being used to support terrorist activity. We also understand that in these recent times, Americans are also being captured for propaganda purposes and to, I believe, hurt our country. So, not only is money a reason to kidnap Americans, but certainly these other issues as well. And we have become very good friends with the European released hostages. They are, in a way, some of our sons, because they lived with Jimmy for a year and a half, so I’m very happy for them that they’re at home, trying to restart their lives. I’m very sad that Jimmy [Foley] and Peter [Kassig] and Steven [Sotloff] and Kayla [Mueller] won’t have that chance.”

Diane: 
“We feel it should be studied. We feel that it’s time really look thoroughly and research our policy to make sure that it is truly in the best interest of all American citizens.”

John on the failed rescue of their son

“I think that first I want to thank the military people involved with the raid attempt. It was obviously a very dangerous situation and those young men and women were fearless in attempting to rescue our children. I guess my concern, there are several concerns, one is that if our only response to hostage taking is military rescue then it’s a very, very limited arsenal. I mean, there’s not really any element of surprise.”

“The lateness of our attempted rescue probably was related the fact that the European countries were trying to negotiate the release of their citizens and felt that they could do so successfully, and I think they asked the United States not to do such a raid until that in fact happened, for those very reasons – now that’s my opinion only.”

John on meeting the European captives he now calls “sons”

“I think it was very helpful for Diane and I to reacquaint ourselves with our son, who we hadn’t seen in a year and a half. And it was comforting to know the role he played in the cell, in terms of trying to hold all the captives together and I think that he was loved by all the people that we spoke to and that certainly buoyed us. We think he left a mark and we wanted to share in that.”

Guest

  • Diane and John Foley, parents of journalist James Foley, who was killed by ISIS in August 2014.

More Stories About James Foley


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Robin and Jeremy

Robin Young and Jeremy Hobson host Here & Now, a live two-hour production of NPR and WBUR Boston.

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