The last email that the captors of James Foley sent to his parents condemned the US airstrikes in Iraq and said Foley would be executed in retaliation. But his parents were actually happy to get the message on Aug. 12 because they had heard nothing at all in eight months and thought the threat of execution might be bluster, they told NBC's Today show. "I did not realize how brutal they were, and I actually hoped we could engage in negotiations with them," said John Foley.
In a separate interview with Katie Couric of Yahoo News, the brother of the slain journalist said the US should have done more to try to free him. "I really, really hope that Jim’s death pushes us to take another look at our approach to terrorist and hostage negotiation," said Michael Foley. Unlike some European countries, the US does not pay ransoms, and critics such as Reuters' David Rohde—a journalist who was held captive himself before escaping—have said that inconsistency puts American hostages at risk. While not explicitly calling for the US to begin paying such ransoms, Rohde thinks the issue needs a full airing. "A consistent response to kidnapping by the US and Europe is desperately needed," he writes at Reuters. "The current haphazard approach is failing."