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Government threatened Foleys with criminal charges over ransom

"Three times he intimidated us with that message. We were horrified he would say that. He just told us we would be prosecuted."

By JC Sevcik

WASHINGTON, Sept. 12 (UPI) -- In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper Thursday, Diane Foley, mother of James Foley, one of the journalists recently beheaded by ISIS, said the Foley family was threatened with criminal charges if they attempted to pay the ransom on their son's head.

According to Foley, a military official issued forbade the family from going to the media and threatened to prosecute them for supporting terrorism if they attempted to raise the $132 million dollar ransom demanded by ISIS.

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"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," Foley told Cooper.

But according to Foley, the family was intimidated into inaction by the threats.

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"[We were asked] to just trust that it would be taken care of . . . we were just told to trust that he would be freed somehow miraculously . . . and he wasn't was he?"

According to ABC, NSC spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden acknowledged the Foley family was informed of U.S. laws prohibiting financing terrorism but denied the family was threatened with criminal charges if they paid the ransom.

"Without getting into the details of our private discussions with families, the law is clear that ransom payments to designated individuals or entities, such as ISIL, are prohibited. It is also a matter of longstanding policy that the U.S. does not grant concessions to hostage takers. Doing so would only put more Americans at risk of being taken captive. That is what we convey publicly and what we convey privately," Hayden said in a statement Thursday.

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"Jim was killed in the most horrific way. He was sacrificed because of just a lack of coordination, lack of communication, lack of prioritization," Diane Foley said in light of the revelation that the US government had actionable intel on Foley's son's location, but were slow in organizing a rescue effort and wound up missing their opportunity to rescue Foley before he was moved to a different location.

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"As a family, we had to find our way through this on our own," she added.

Wednesday night, President Barack Obama announced an expanding military operation in the Middle East in response to IS.

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"They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage. They threatened a religious minority with genocide. In acts of barbarism, they took the lives of two American journalists -- Jim Foley and Steven Sotloff," Obama said in the televised address.

Foley shared her thoughts on the President's announcement with Cooper:

"This whole strategy to eliminate ISIS and the terror threat is important, obviously, so perhaps part of the strategic way of doing that is to bomb them, and to engage in force. But that only caused Jim's death. I guess all I'm trying to say is that our government needs to be shrewder, smarter, willing to negotiate with these people who hate us, so that we can find better ways to rid ourselves of terror. I pray that our government will be willing to learn from the mistakes that were made and to acknowledge that there are better ways for American citizens to be treated. There should be international dialogue about how to handle hostages of terrorist groups," she said.

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"The risk is becoming higher and higher," she said, "and I really feel that our country let Jim down."

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