ISIL, the terrorist organization behind the tragic execution of American journalist James Foley, sent the Foley family and his employer, GlobalPost, only two communications, both sent via email. The Foley family has now made the second email public, which we have reprinted in full below. The site's editors said they believe the email "offers insight into the motivations and tactics of the Islamic State."
In the first communication from ISIL, the hostage takers demanded 100 million euros (the equivalent of $132.5 million USD), or a prisoner exchange, the details of which were unknown. This communication was received on November 26, 2013, about a year after Foley's disappearance. The terrorists demanded the money be sent rapidly and also proved he was in their captivity.
Christopher Voss, a Georgetown University professor who spent 24 years as a lead hostage negotiator for the FBI and is now the CEO of Black Swan Group, a company which applies hostage negotiation strategy to business negotiation, told The Wire in a phone interview that a number as high as $100 million is, in fact, the opposite of an attempt at negotiation.
When the sum is so large, it means money is not their end goal. "That’s a tactic on their part, to ask for a ridiculous amount of money so they can look like they tried to negotiate, but our side was unreasonable. It is a ruse. It's an intentionally nonsubstantive demand," explained Voss. "It’s a bit of the equivalent of al-Qaeda in Iraq asking for all U.S. forces to get out. They intentionally ask for something that won't happen."
GlobalPost says the next email they received was on August 12, 2014, about a week before the execution video became public. It made no demands and is factually incorrect in claiming that "many chances" were given to negotiate a ransom.
Here is the complete email GlobalPost revealed. (Please note, this may be disturbing to some readers):
HOW LONG WILL THE SHEEP FOLLOW THE BLIND SHEPPARD?
A message to the American government and their sheep like citizens:
We have left you alone since your disgraceful defeat in Iraq. We did not interfere in your country or attack your citizens while they were safe in their homes despite our capability to do so!
As for the scum of your society who are held prisoner by us, THEY DARED TO ENTER THE LION’S DEN AND WHERE EATEN!
You were given many chances to negotiate the release of your people via cash transactions as other governments have accepted,
We have also offered prisoner exchanges to free the Muslims currently in your detention like our sister Dr Afia Sidiqqi, however you proved very quickly to us that this is NOT what you are interested in.
You have no motivation to deal with the Muslims except with the language of force, a language you were given in “Arabic translation” when you attempted to occupy the land of Iraq!
Now you return to bomb the Muslims of Iraq once again, this time resorting to Arial attacks and “proxy armies”, all the while cowardly shying away from a face-to-face confrontation!
Today our swords are unsheathed towards you, GOVERNMENT AND CITIZENS ALIKE! AND WE WILL NOT STOP UNTILL WE QUENCH OUR THIRST FOR YOUR BLOOD.
You do not spare our weak, elderly, women or children so we will NOT spare yours!
You and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings!
The first of which being the blood of the American citizen, James Foley!
He will be executed as a DIRECT result of your transgressions towards us!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.