The family and freelance employer of slain photojournalist James Foley received a “vitriolic” email from the Islamic State last week declaring their intent to kill Foley, GlobalPost President Philip Balboni said at a press conference yesterday.
A week before the horrifying footage of an Islamic State jihadist beheading Foley surfaced online, the GlobalPost — for whom Foley was freelancing in Syria before being captured — received a letter indicating that the Islamic State was going to kill him. The letter, Balboni said at a press conference in Boston on Wednesday, did not demand anything of its recipients, nor did it seem there was anything to be done that would have stopped them from killing Foley.
Balboni noted that the email’s tone had changed from the last time they had received word from Foley’s captors, who had asked for “both political and monetary demands” last autumn, according to the Boston Globe. Balboni noted that the email was to the Foley family as well as the GlobalPost.
Speaking to local Boston outlet NewsCenter 5, Balboni described the email and their response to it: “The email was full of rage. We pleaded (to his captors) for mercy, but to no avail.” Nonetheless, he said family and friends hoped the email was not as serious as it sounded: “you can see the seething anger. It could have been a bluff and we had to believe it was a bluff. You know when you kidnap someone and hold them for almost two years, you don’t do it unless you believe there is value in those hostages.”
The Foley family also released a statement this week, saying they “have never been prouder” of their son and honoring his dedication to his work exposing the brutality of groups like the Islamic State in Syria through his journalism.
Balboni also noted at the press conference that, for most of Foley’s capture, GlobalPost knew where he was and that he was kept in Syria. The organization also kept in touch with the federal government, and Balboni noted that he believed it “likely” that the government had attempted rescue missions that were never shared outside of government circles, so the GlobalPost did not have any information on them.
The federal government revealed last night that a mission to rescue Foley had indeed occurred. United States Special Operations attempted to rescue Foley in Syria last summer, but failed to do so, as they were working on faulty intelligence, and Foley, as well as a number of other American captives, were not where they were believed to be held.
Syria is believed to be the most dangerous country in the world for journalists; it is currently estimated that 20 journalists have been abducted and remain under the custody of terror groups there, mostly the Islamic State.