The parents of James Foley, an American photojournalist who was murdered by Islamic State militants, have released an email they received from their son’s captors just one week before his death.
In the disturbing letter sent to John and Diane Foley on August 12, Muslim radicals taunted the family, threatened U.S. citizens and pledged to kill Foley as a result of America’s “transgressions” against the Islamic State.
A video showing the journalist’s execution was posted to YouTube days later, but was later removed for violating the site’s standards.
“Today our swords are unsheathed towards you, GOVERNMENT AND CITIZENS ALIKE! AND WE WILL NOT STOP UNTILL WE QUENCH OUR THIRST FOR YOUR BLOOD,” the letter read, taking aim at the U.S. government’s recent airstrikes in Iraq intended to stem the group’s expansion.
The text continued, “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!”
While the letter also claimed that the family — or, at the least, the U.S. — was given “many chances” to negotiate for the release of American prisoners, including Foley, the GlobalPost, a news outlet that employed Foley, reported that John and Diane Foley had only heard from the terrorists a few times.
On November 26, 2013, the Islamic State reportedly requested $132 million or the release of Muslims prisoners purportedly in U.S. custody in exchange for Foley’s release.
Diane Foley told NBC’s “Today” Friday that a series of emails came in December as well, but that the terror group abruptly stopped communicating with the family. The next contact didn’t come until August 12 when the group proclaimed that it would be killing the photojournalist.
John and Diane Foley addressed the letter on “Today,” claiming that they had hoped to be able to negotiate with the Islamic State to secure their son’s release.
“I actually was excited to see an email despite the conclusion that they would execute Jim. We underestimated that point,” John Foley told the outlet. “I did not realize how brutal they were, and I actually hoped we could engage in negotiations with them if they were willing to send any sort of communication because we had none prior.”
Diane Foley also shared what Pope Francis said when he called the family to offer condolences, describing him as “just so kind.”
Watch the Foleys speak out below:
The Islamic State, which reportedly captured Foley on Nov. 22, 2012 in Syria, is said to have three other American hostages, according to the New York Times.
Read the full text of the Islamic State’s letter here.