The mother of slain American journalist James Foley is harshly criticizing the U.S. government for its handling of her son’s hostage situation.
“I really, really feel that our country let Jim down,” Diane Foley said during a Thursday night interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
Foley made clear that she didn’t want to blame specific people and said that there were many government officials who genuinely wanted to help. But she reserved significant criticism for the U.S. government in general, which she felt failed to help her family or James while he was held by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant captors.
“As an American, I was embarrassed and appalled. I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance” to the government, she said. Foley added that James “believed until the end” that the government would come to his rescue.
Foley also said that the government told her family members that they could be “prosecuted” if they tried to raise ransom to secure his release. “I was horrified,” she said, when informed.
Her comments came days after a spokesman for the family of Steven Sotloff, another American journalist captured and recently beheaded by ISIL, slammed the White House for spreading inaccuracies and failing to do more to protect Sotloff.
“We know that the intelligence community and the White House are enmeshed in a larger game of bureaucratic infighting and Jim and Steve are pawns in that game and that’s not fair,” Barak Barfi said in a CNN interview Monday evening, in a reference to Foley.
“The relationship between the administration and the Sotloff family was very strained,” he added later.
James Foley, a photojournalist who covered stories in the Middle East, was captured by ISIL in Syria in November 2012. He was seen beheaded by an ISIL militant in a video released Aug. 19. The Obama administration has said it made a failed attempt to rescue him and some of the other hostages held by the terrorist group.
Diane Foley on Thursday evening acknowledged the attempted rescue mission but said it was a “very late” try, suggesting the government knew about her son’s location for a long time and failed to move in.
When asked Thursday evening whether she felt if the U.S. government was there for her and her family, she said, “not at all.”
After hearing the comments, National Security Adviser Susan Rice called Foley “an extraordinary woman,” but said the Obama administration “worked very hard” to secure his release, citing a “sophisticated” attempted rescue operation.
Foley added that the foundation her family plans to establish on James’s behalf will prompt international dialogue about how better to handle hostage situations.