U.S. Officials Threatened James Foley’s Parents With Prosecution Over Ransom – By Daniel Politi SEPT. 13 2014 1:55 PM

Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, pauses for a moment during an interview at her home on Aug. 24, 2014.
Photo by DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images

Although James Foley’s mother said she wasn’t surprised that the government would want to prevent her family from raising money for a ransom to free her son, she was shocked at how it was handled and how the message was delivered, Diane Foley told ABC News.

“I was surprised there was so little compassion. … It just made me realize that these people talking to us had no idea what it was like to be the family of someone abducted… I’m sure [the U.S. official] didn’t mean it the way he said it, but we were between a rock and a hard place. We were told we could do nothing… meanwhile our son was being beaten and tortured every day.”

The warnings came primarily from “a highly decorated military officer serving on the White House’s National Security Council staff.” Current and former officials confirmed the threats to ABC News, with one saying that it “was an utterly idiotic thing to do.”

Earlier the mother of the journalist who was beheaded by ISIS told CNN that she was “embarrassed and appalled” by how U.S. officials handled her son’s kidnapping. “I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance,” Diane Foley said. “Jim was killed in the most horrific way. He was sacrificed because of just a lack of coordination, lack of communication, lack of prioritization.”

The family learned about Foley’s death from “one journalist calling us and crying on the phone,” Diane Foley told Fox News. Foley’s brother, Michael Foley, had earlier told Fox News that government officials “were actually an impedance” to getting the journalist released. “I was specifically threatened by the Department of State about raising funds towards ransom demands for my brother,” he said. “We were smart enough to look past it but it slowed us down. We lost a lot of time.”

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Islamic State ‘kills US hostage’ – BBC News 3 September 2014 Last updated at 01:13 ET

Video highlights Islamic State’s tactics of asymmetric warfare

An Islamic State video has appeared which purports to show the beheading of Steven Sotloff, a US journalist being held hostage by the militants.

Screen Shot 2014-09-02 at Sep 2, 2014 11.04

Mr Sotloff, 31, was abducted in Syria in 2013. He appeared at the end of a video last month which showed fellow US journalist James Foley being killed.

A militant in the latest video also threatens to kill a British hostage.

Mr Sotloff’s family said they were aware of the video and were “grieving privately”.

After Mr Foley’s death, Mr Sotloff’s mother appealed to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to save her son’s life.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said US officials were checking the reports.

The US has recently carried out dozens of air strikes against IS targets in Iraq.

President Barack Obama has ordered the deployment of another 350 troops to Baghdad to protect US diplomatic facilities, the White house has said.

Analysis: BBC security correspondent Frank Gardner

This second execution video from IS is significant, even though it was largely expected and dreaded. It shows that the recent US air strikes which have halted IS’s lightning advance across northern Iraq are causing the organisation real damage, upsetting its plans to extend by force its rule into Kurdistan.

Unable to hit back militarily against America’s jets, Islamic State has responded with a form of information warfare that it knows will horrify most people in the West.

Secondly, by threatening to murder a British hostage, IS shows it makes little or no distinction between the US and Britain as its enemy. This is despite Britain so far restricting itself to dropping aid to refugees and flying in supplies to the Kurdish military, leaving air strikes to the Americans.

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Al Qaeda’s New Front: Jihadi Rap By AMIL KHAN August 31, 2014

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at Sep 1, 2014 6.36

Abdel Majed Abdel Bary, the rapper suspected of murdering American journalist James Foley somewhere between Syria and Iraq, is the product of a British youth culture that has managed to merge two seemingly contradictory lifestyles: gangsta rap and jihad. Like Douglas McAuthur McCain—an American hip-hop fan who was recently killed fighting for the Islamic State—Abdel Bary represents a new and very scary evolution in modern jihadi history.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel recently described the Islamic State as a threat “beyond anything we’ve ever seen.” Yet we are only just beginning to grasp what is different about this group. One reason is that it includes men in its ranks whom you might expect to see in a nightclub rather than fighting in the desert for an organization that would, traditionally, whip you for listening to music.

As a result of this cultural elasticity, the Islamic State has succeeded in attracting supporters outside its natural recruiting pool. Both McCain and another Westerner, Denis Mamadou Cuspert, a German citizen who died fighting with the Islamic State—and had a previous life as rapper Deso Dogg with three albums to his name—became converts as part of this broader appeal.

I first began to look into this hybrid phenomenon in 2008 when I was a journalist researching a subculture that had fused the extremism and violence of gangsta rap with that of al Qaeda—or at least a version of it. During a months-long investigation for British television station Channel 4, I met dozens of young men across London who tended to have three things in common: a history of criminal activity, an ambition to be a gangsta rapper and a fixation with the terrorist group begun by Osama bin Laden.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/08/al-qaedas-new-front-jihadi-rap-110481.html#ixzz3C7OLutNM


Could Social Media Blow Special Operations Like the Failed Foley Rescue? – Jacob Siegel 08.22.14

The Daily Beast/Elena Scotti

Journalists didn’t report on the mission to save James Foley and more ISIS hostages, but Syrian social media did—in July. Is it just a matter of time before an operation is compromised?

It’s getting harder to do anything these days without someone tweeting out the details. More than a month before the unsuccessful top-secret mission to rescue American hostages held by ISIS was revealed by the White House, the operation appears to have leaked on Syrian social media accounts.

Going back at least to the raid on Osama bin Laden, which was live tweeted at the time by a curious neighbor, social media users have been publicizing details of top secret U.S. military operations. So far, there’s no evidence of a mission being compromised by social media, but the possibility exists. And though the military has developed techniques to monitor and counter cellphones during active operations, it’s not clear what strategy exists to deal with the newer communications technologies.

In the case of the bin Laden raid, the tweeter knew only that something involving helicopters and explosions was happening in his suburban Pakistani neighborhood, not that it had anything to do with the al Qaeda leader or a U.S. special operations mission. But those tweets drew early attention to a highly classified mission and revealed details, including a timeline of events, that may never otherwise have gone public.

Something similar may have happened in early July, when accounts of the secret military operation to free hostages in Syria began spreading on social media. Those early reports describe an American-led raid on an ISIS compound in Syria. They can’t conclusively be said to refer to the U.S. mission, but the description seems to broadly match, and they surfaced months before the government acknowledged that any such mission had taken place.

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Obama condemns James Foley killing – By JENNIFER EPSTEIN and EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE | 8/20/14 1:12 PM EDT Updated: 8/20/14 4:11 PM EDT

President Barack Obama on Wednesday condemned the killing of American journalist James Foley by militants associated with the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, saying that “the entire world is appalled” by the incident.Screen Shot 2014-08-20 at Aug 20, 2014 6.05 1

Speaking from Martha’s Vineyard, where he and his family are vacationing, Obama said he had spoken to Foley’s family earlier Wednesday and had conveyed that Americans “are all heartbroken at their loss and join them in honoring Jim.”

For a president who’s been trying to explain to this country and the rest of the world why he reluctantly went forward with air strikes in Iraq, Foley’s beheading became an important, high-profile reminder of what he’s trying to fight. Obama argued that the group is, as Foley’s mother put it earlier Wednesday, “just evil.”

“No just God would stand for what they did yesterday,” Obama said. “ISIL has no ideology of value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt.”

(Also on POLITICO: AP CEO: Foley murder a war crime)

Obama’s message Wednesday was the most extensive condemnation of ISIL since U.S. military activity began two weeks ago in an effort to protect Americans in Erbil and help the Yazidi population escape the advancing ISIL militants.

At the same time, the president has faced push-back from an American public — and many in his own White House — weary of war and deeply opposed to getting drawn back into Iraq. And while Obama has repeatedly rejected the idea of mission creep, he’s done so as he’s continued to escalate the presence of Americans and the use of American force.

Asked Monday about that danger, Obama pointed to the collaborative efforts between Kurdish and Iraqi forces that led to the retaking of the Mosul Dam, then dangled what’s clearly a huge “if,” given the last decade of divisions in Iraq. “If we have effective partners on the ground, mission creep is much less likely,” Obama said.

Wednesday, though, Obama made no specific commitments toward any action, new or continued.

(Also on POLITICO: Grappling with the James Foley video)

Airstrikes have been ongoing in Iraq — 14 more since the video was released Tuesday, the U.S. Central Command announced shortly after Obama finished speaking, bringing the total to 84. Just Monday, the president announced the successful retaking of the Mosul Dam.

But the political and military problems that kept Obama from ultimately authorizing military action against Syria last year remain, with the added dilemma that the resistance there is that much weaker and ISIL has grown that much stronger.

Unlike the gassing of Syrian civilians last year, ISIL’s killing an American journalist — with another American held up under threat of being next in the same video — clearly galvanized the conversation for Obama, and, he urged, for everyone else.

“Let’s be clear about ISIL,” Obama said Wednesday. “They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shi’a, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion.

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Iraq calculus shifts for Obama – By Kristina Wong – 08/20/14 07:11 PM EDT

The brutal execution of American journalist James Foley by Islamist militants is forcing the White House to reevaluate its calculus in Iraq.

Foley’s killing has raised new calls for the president to expand the U.S. role in Iraq, with advocates arguing that the journalist’s videotaped beheading underscores the threat posed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

The White House appeared to see Foley’s killing as an escalation; President Obama broke from his vacation on Wednesday to make an on-camera statement in which he vowed to protect American citizens.

The Pentagon is reportedly thinking about sending more U.S. military advisers to Iraq, and also appeared to intensify its bombing campaign against ISIS following the video’s release. It announced 14 airstrikes against targets in northern Iraq, bringing the total number of U.S. fighter jet and drones strikes against ISIS targets to 84 since operations began in early August.

“When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what is necessary to make sure justice is done,” Obama said in remarks from Martha’s Vineyard, where he is vacationing.

Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted that ISIS “must be destroyed/will be crushed.”

Still, Obama faces familiar constraints moving forward, leading many observers to conclude the death of Foley will not be a game changer for U.S. policy.

A war-weary public has little appetite for further conflict in Iraq, and Obama has vowed repeatedly that the United States would not return boots to the ground.

While there are calls in some quarters of Congress for more aggressive actions, many more lawmakers, particularly in Obama’s party, are reluctant to back forceful steps if it would risk mission creep in Iraq.

Iraq is also seen internationally as a problem for the United States, making it difficult for the White House to find international support.

“I don’t mean this to sound heartless but this doesn’t change the policy,” one former National Security Council official said. “It makes it more personal but it doesn’t mean we are going to commit thousands of troops. We knew of the brutality of ISIS.”

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http://thehill.com/policy/defense/215641-obama-ordered-secret-raid-to-free-hostages-in-syria#ixzz3B0uQUxl0  Follow us: @thehill on Twitter | TheHill on Facebook

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