ISIS ransom for Foley was US$132m
DAMASCUS –– The captors of American journalist James Foley had demanded a ransom of 100 million euros (US$132.5 million, BDS$265 million) for his release, according to GlobalPost spokesman Richard Byrne.
Foley, 40, was a freelancer for the online news outlet.
Earlier, Philip Balboni, the president and chief executive of GlobalPost, told the Wall Street Journal that the captors also demanded that money from Foley’s family.
Balboni told CNN today that the company “never took the $100 million seriously” because ransoms paid for other hostages in ISIS captivity were “dramatically less”. He did not say what
those lower amounts were, but that there was an attempt to raise money that was more in line with the lower sums.
CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen also felt the ransom for Foley was so excessive that it couldn’t be considered “a serious demand”.
“The kinds of money that we’ve seen be paid for hostages is much lower than that,” he said.
There was never any true negotiation between the news outlet and Foley’s captors, Balboni stressed, saying that ISIS simply made demands.
The Islamic extremist group ISIS, which refers to itself as the Islamic State, controls large areas of Syria and Iraq. It published a video Tuesday showing the journalist’s beheading.
Several French journalists were released by ISIS militants this spring.
A militant who appears in the video of Foley’s beheading links the killing to the American intervention in Iraq against ISIS. The killer says the fate of another American journalist shown in the footage, believed to be Steven Sotloff, depends on what United States’ President Barack Obama does next.
But the threat has done little to curb United States military operations in Iraq. Today American warplanes continued air strikes against ISIS targets near Mosul Dam, which had been in control of ISIS but was recently reclaimed by Kurdish forces. The United States launched six more airstrikes near the dam in support of Iraqi Security Force operations, according to Centcom.
The strikes destroyed or damaged three ISIS Humvees, one ISIS vehicle and multiple locations where improvised explosives had been placed, the United States military said.
Calling ISIS a “cancer”, Obama said yesterday that the United States “will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and civility”.
United States Attorney General Eric Holder spoke today about Foley, saying: “We have long memories and our reach is very wide.
“We will not forget what happened, and people will be held accountable, one way or another,” Holder said in Washington.
United States officials revealed that they had tried to rescue Foley and other captives earlier this summer in a special military operation in Syria. But the special forces from units such as Delta Force and Navy SEAL Team 6 failed to find the hostages.
“Unfortunately, the mission was not successful because the hostages were not present at the targeted location,” Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said yesterday.
Several ISIS operatives were killed in the special operation, a United States official said. No United States personnel were killed, but one was slightly wounded. Fighters jets and surveillance aircraft provided overhead protection to the troops.
Bergen compared the mission to the one in which Osama bin Laden was killed in 2011. The commandos going into the compound in Pakistan couldn’t have known for certain that bin Laden
“There’s always uncertainty,” he said.
Former Navy SEAL Chris Heben said there’s real-time intelligence gathering all the way up to the second a raid begins.
“The intelligence gathering is massive and it happens at a high rate of speed,” he said, with analysts “chewing through” data even while commandos are en route.
Messages from Foley’s captors began last fall, Balboni said yesterday.
Foley, a native of New Hampshire, was on assignment when he disappeared on November 22, 2012, in northwest Syria, near the border with Turkey.
“The captors never messaged a lot. There was a very limited number with a very specific purpose . . . . They made demands,” Balboni said.
Some messages were political and some were financial.
Then last week, his family received an email saying he would be killed.
“The message was vitriolic and filled with rage against the United States. It was deadly serious,” Balboni said.
“Obviously, we hoped and prayed that would not be the case . . . . Sadly, they showed no mercy.”
Foley’s family, according to Balboni, responded in an email, pleading for mercy and asking for more time.
They did not hear back.