New details are emerging surrounding the kidnapping and attempted military rescue of American journalist James Foley, whose beheading by the militant group Islamic State was revealed in a chilling video posted to the Internet this week.
The head of GlobalPost – the U.S.-based online publication Foley was working for when he was abducted in 2012 – says Islamic extremists demanded 100 million Euros ($132.5 million) for Foley's freedom. They also e-mailed Foley's family directly days before his death.
"There was only one ransom demand,'' GlobalPost CEO Philip Balboni told USA Today Thursday night. "There was never a negotiation. They never responded with a different figure and we never stated a figure. We simply responded to that (ransom) email in a very deliberate way with the advice of our security consultants and the FBI."
Boston-based GlobalPost "never took the 100 million seriously" because ransoms paid for other hostages being held by Islamic State were "dramatically less," Balboni said.
He said amounts paid in the past to free hostages was 2 to 4 million euros. "We thought that something in the range of 5 million was probably the right amount to pay for the ransom," he said.
Balboni said the 100 million Euros demand was considered to be "some form of opening gambit that was so wildly excessive that no one could ever raise that kind of money."
Foley, 40, went missing after his car was stopped by gunmen in northwest Syria near the Turkish border on Nov. 22, 2012. Foley's family didn't know he was alive until September 2013, when Balboni says a Belgian jihadist who befriended Foley provided information on his location and captors. A series of e-mails between Foley's family and his captors, the first on Nov. 26, confirmed the journalist's identify.
Members of the Army's elite Delta Force and Navy's Seal Team SIx conducted a July 4 holiday weekend raid on an Islamic State stronghold in Syria, where U.S intelligence officials believed Foley and other hostages were being held. But there were no signs of any hostages.
ABC News reported that the rescue effort involved at least 24 special forces members, supported by helicopters and an Air Force AC-130 gunship.They engaged with more than 100 militants in an Islamic State stronghold near Raqqah. More than a dozen militants were killed. One member of the raiding party was wounded, ABC reported.
Foley's family last heard from Islamic State via an Aug. 12 email, which made no demands but said that he would be killed as a result of scores of U.S. military airstrikes targeting Islamic State forces in northern Iraq .
The email, released by the family Thursday, was "a message to the American government and their sheep like citizens" that criticized the bombing of Muslims. It said that Foley "will be executed as a DIRECT result of your transgressions toward us."
Balboni said Foley's family responded in an e-mail to Islamic State pleading for mercy, but did not hear back.
Balboni said he still held out hope following last week's e-mail.
"Given the fact that Jim had been held as a hostage for almost two years, moved, fed, sheltered during all this period of time – to take his life now seemed utterly pointless," Balboni said. "We hoped that we could appeal to them."
"I always believed that we were going to bring him home safely," Balboni said. "Even after last Wednesday night. I still believed they would not kill him. I guess we misjudged the degree of their anger."
Balboni told USA TODAY that he spoke to Foley's family earlier Thursday.
"They're broken-hearted, but they know Jim was doing what he loved. His sacrifice will be remembered by many."