In the days before it executed American journalist James Foley, the group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) demanded a ransom payment of approximately $US132 million in exchange for his release.
Philip Balboni, the CEO and president of GlobalPost, one of the publications for which Foley had been freelancing in Syria, said the group demanded the sum of 100 million Euros from Foley’s family and from GlobalPost late last year.
“GlobalPost CEO Philip Balboni confirms that Jim Foley’s family received a ransom demand from Jim’s captors for 100 million Euros. The demand was made during an initial period of communication with Jim’s captors from November to December of 2013,” GlobalPost spokesman Rick Byrne said in an email.
Balboni initially told The Wall Street Journal of the figure, and he said that all communications with ISIS had been referred to government agencies. According to The New York Times, the group also pressed the U.S. government for a “multi-million dollar ransom” for his release.
The U.S. and Britain have long refused to pay ransoms to terrorist organisations, contrary to the policies of other western and European governments. Officials argue that giving into such demands only makes the problem grow, while keeping the organisations funded in the long term. Al Qaeda and its affiliates, for example, have earned $US125 million in the past five years alone from ransom payments, according to a New York Times analysis.
U.S. Special Operations Forces attempted to rescue Foley and other American hostages earlier this year, but the rescue attempt failed when the hostages were not at the location U.S. intelligence had pinpointed.
On Tuesday, ISIS released video of its brutal execution of Foley and threatened that another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, would be killed next if President Barack Obama did not draw down U.S. military operations targeted at ISIS in Iraq. Obama said Thursday that the U.S. would not back down, saying it would “continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless.”
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