James Foley's Catholic parents received a call from Pope Francis himself yesterday to console them on the gruesome death of their son. The pontiff was "very compassionate, very loving," and spoke to the New Hampshire couple through a translator for around 20 minutes, a family friend tells the New York Daily News. Meanwhile, Foley's former employer, GlobalPost, has released the full text of the last email sent to Foley's parents by his captors, with the family's permission. "You and your citizens will pay the price of your bombings!" the Aug. 12 message declares, addressing both his parents and the US government. "Now you return to bomb the Muslims of Iraq once again, this time resorting to Arial (sic) attacks and 'proxy armies,' all the while cowardly shying away from a face-to-face confrontation!" It alleges that the US passed up chances to pay a ransom or swap prisoners, and ends by saying that Foley will be executed "as a DIRECT result of your transgressions towards us!" Read it in full here.
In other developments:
- Other foreigners held alongside Foley says ISIS militants, including British-accented executioner "John the Jihadi," treated the captured journalist more harshly than other captives, the Washington Post reports. "He was some kind of scapegoat," a captured French journalist who's since been released tells the BBC. "And the kidnappers knew that his brother was in the US Air Force. He became the whipping-boy of the jailers." He says militants performed mock executions on Foley, and he witnessed them force him to "pose as if he was being crucified against a wall."
- The militants have threatened to execute captive US journalist Steven Sotloff next, but he is just one of up to 20 Westerners believed to be ISIS captives, reports the Telegraph. They are believed to include Vanessa Marzullo, 21, and Greta Ramelli, 20, two Italian aid workers who vanished in Syria earlier this month, as well as three Red Cross workers seized last fall.
- Senior Pentagon officials describe ISIS as a group with an "apocalyptic, end-of-days strategic vision which will eventually have to be defeated"—but they warn that fighting the group effectively will have to involve strikes on Syria. Senior British officials say the country's military is likely to end up joining any American military action against the group, the Guardian reports.