Family of beheaded journalist were threatened with arrest if they paid ransom

This article is more than 12 months old

The mother of James Foley, the American journalist beheaded by terrorists, said that US officials warned family members that they could face criminal charges if they paid a ransom to Foley's captors.

Diane Foley told ABC News: "We took it as a threat and it was appalling.

US is unequivocally against paying ransoms as the administration believes negotiating for terrorists will lead to more abductions.

Foley spoke of one particular unidentified official who was relaying these threatening messages.

"Three times he intimidated us with that message. We were horrified he would say that. He just told us we would be prosecuted. We knew we had to save our son - we had to try," she said.

Secretary of State John Kerry said he was taken aback by these reports: "I am totally unaware and would not condone anybody that I know of within the State Department making such statements."

A video of the beheading of James Foley by an Islamic State (ISIS) militant was posted on the Web on Aug. 19. Two weeks later a similar video showed another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, being beheaded.

In the wake of the terror organisation's brutality, the White House has officially declared that the "United States is at war with ISIS."

This comes after confusion over President Obama's ambiguous primetime address on Sept 10 on the strategy to destroy ISIS.

Source: Reuters, AFP