The mother of James Foley, the American photo-journalist publicly executed by ISIS, is offering praise for President Donald Trump and his administration’s efforts to seek the freedom of “hundreds” of Americans still being held hostage around the world, in sharp contrast to her earlier criticism of the Obama administration.
“I have to commend the Trump administration,” said Diane Foley in an interview on the Brian Ross Investigates program on the Law and Crime Network. “The Trump administration has made the return of Americans more of a priority, without a doubt,” she said.
It was five years ago this summer that her 40-year old son was brutally murdered by ISIS, all recorded on a grisly video that shocked the world.
At the time, Mrs. Foley claimed officials in the Obama White House gave her son’s plight a low priority, misled her about key developments and threatened to prosecute anyone who tried to raise money to pay the ransom that ISIS was demanding.
Her public comments led President Obama in 2015 to institute a series of reforms designed to better deal with American hostages and their families.
Those reforms “have had significant success,” concluded “Bringing Americans Home,” a report released this week by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, established in her son’s name.
“We’re very happy to report that things are better for Americans who are considered hostage,” she told the Law&Crime Network.
“Often, it is leadership from the President himself and the Secretary of State that is necessary to bring these Americans home to their families,” the report said. “That leadership must continue.”Based on interviews with more than 20 American hostage families, the report found “deep concern” that the position of Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs is currently vacant.
The appointment of the envoy position “must become an early priority for incoming administrations,” the report said.
The actual number of Americans being hostage worldwide is classified, she said, “but we definitely estimate hundreds of Americans are taken hostage and or unlawfully detained every year abroad.”
She says she still feels the Obama administration botched opportunities to gain her son’s freedom. “I feel that we did not engage as a government because of the civil war in Syria and therefore we missed out on a lot of intelligence about ISIS that we would have known had we engaged with the captors” of her son and three other Americans who were executed in 2014.
“I do feel it could have turned out differently if our government had negotiated with them,” Mrs. Foley told Brian Ross. It has been long-standing US policy not to negotiate with terrorist groups or to pay ransom for the release of hostages, in the belief that such actions would only lead to more kidnappings and hostages.
Among the hostages Mrs. Foley says need to have continued attention is former FBI agent Robert Levinson, who disappeared in Iran in 2007. Journalist Austin Tice was last seen alive in Syria in 2012.
“There are so many other Americans in need of US leadership and empathy,” she said.
The Foley foundation has not always praised the Trump administration. Earlier this year, the Foundation said it had withdrawn an invitation to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to attend their annual dinner and receive an award because the Trump administration had not been tough enough on Saudi Arabia over the slaying of Washington Post columnist and Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi.
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[image via/Diane Foley]