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James Foley's Boss Says Kidnappers Had Sent Threatening Emails to Foley's Family


DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- The President and Founder of GlobalPost, the news organization for whom James Foley worked when he was abducted in 2012, said in an interview with ABC News on Wednesday that the Foley family had received a threatening email from Foley's kidnappers prior to his death.

The email, Philip Balboni said, was, "full of rage against the United States for the bombing." GlobalPost had, "been working on this case for almost two years," he said, noting that there were investigators in both the Middle East and Europe investigating Foley's whereabouts.

Balboni added that GlobalPost and the Foley family had received previous emails from the kidnappers, the first of which was in November 2013. "They weren't very frequent communicators," Balboni said, stating that the perpetrators ,"established decisively for us that they were holding Jim Foley." That, Balboni said, "was a milestone moment...and they stopped communication until very recently."

Balboni added that GlobalPost was "devastated by his loss," but that Foley's, "courage and commitment to tell the important stories of war and human tragedy will stand forever as a shining example to all reporters and we hope to all people who believe in a free press."

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US Military Conducts More Airstrikes Near Mosul Dam


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOSUL, Iraq) -- The U.S. military conducted 14 more airstrikes in the vicinity of the Mosul Dam on Wednesday continuing its support of Iraqi security force operations.

U.S. Central Command said that the strikes were launched using fighter, attack and remotely-piloted aircraft. Six Humvees, three improvised exclusive device emplacements, one mortar tube and two armed trucks in possession of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria were destroyed or damaged in the strikes.

The Mosul Dam was retaken by Iraqi forces, according to the Department of Defense. Since Aug. 8, U.S. Central Command says it has conducted a total of 84 airstrikes in Iraq, 51 of which were in support of Iraqi forces near the dam.

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James Foley Punished for Suspected Escape Plans, Fellow Hostage Says


Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Before the murder of American James Foley was captured on video and posted online recently, the journalist once suffered “brutal punishment” because his captors believed he was planning to escape, a former fellow hostage told ABC News.

“James was a bit punished for a presumed attempt to escape, but it had no real chance,” French freelance reporter Nicolas Henin told ABC News, after saying he once attempted to escape himself but was caught after wandering in the Syrian countryside for a few hours.

Henin said Foley was met with “brutal punishment” inspired both by his captor’s suspicions and, as Henin put it, “the American war on terror.” Out of respect for Foley’s parents, Benin declined to provide details about Foley’s punishment.

Henin said he was captured last year and held by ISIS for 10 months – seven of which he spent alongside Foley before Henin was released this April. He didn’t say exactly when the violent incident with Foley took place, but it was while Henin was also in captivity.

Tuesday a gruesome video surfaced online showing a self-professed ISIS militant beheading Foley in retaliation for recent U.S. airstrikes on ISIS targets in Iraq.

Henin said that for him, watching the video was “extremely shocking” because he so easily could have been in Foley’s place.

“For instance, the shoes that he was wearing when he was taken to this place in the desert, I wore them. We had few shoes that we were using to go to the bathroom and we were sharing them,” Henin said.

Foley, Henin said, was always optimistic about his chances of being freed, even though the United States does not negotiate with terrorists by policy. Henin said eventually a large group of hostages from many countries had been released, leaving the Americans together.

The U.S. and the U.K., Henin said, “do not negotiate with jihadists” – a statement that echoed the findings of a New York Times report in late July that said that while European governments regularly pay ransoms to terror groups to recover their citizens, the U.S. and U.K. refuse.

In Foley’s last moments, when hope must have run out, Henin also recognized Foley’s bravery in the video.

“That is someone, I mean, a real man,” Henin said. “Many people would’ve freaked out and [been] terrified because he knew very well what was going to happen to him… But [he] was still standing up, looking forward and speaking with a clear voice.”

President Obama said Wednesday that the whole world was “appalled” by ISIS’s actions and vowed to continue to work to protect Americans everywhere. Hours later, the U.S. military announced it had continued bombing runs against ISIS targets.

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State Department Offers Rewards for Information on Leaders of Terrorist Group Based in Pakistan


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. State Department offered new rewards for information on four leaders of the Haqqani Network terrorist organization on Wednesday as part of its Rewards for Justice program.

The Department of State says it has authorized rewards of up to $5 million each for information that leads to the capture of Aziz Haqqani, Khalil al-Rahman Haqqani, Yahya Haqqani and Abdul Rauf Zakir and up to $10 million for information on the group's leader Sirajuddin Haqqani. The network, founded in the late 1970s, is allied with al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban and cooperates with other regional terrorist organizations.

The terrorist organization is based on North Waziristan, Pakistan and conducts cross-border attacks in Afghanistan, the State Department says.

The Haqqani Network was designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2012.

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‘Apparent’ That James Foley Executioner Is British, Intel Agencies Race to ID Killer


Obtained by ABC News(LONDON) -- The White House said Wednesday the video showing the murder of American journalist James Foley at the hand of an Islamic militant “is authentic,” a determination that came hours after a top British official said it was “apparent” the masked executioner was from the United Kingdom.

“The U.S. intelligence community has analyzed the recently released video showing U.S. citizens James Foley and Steven Sotloff. We have reached the judgment that this video is authentic,” White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said. Sotloff is shown but not harmed in the video.

U.S. and British intelligence officials continue to hurriedly analyze the video in hopes of identifying Foley’s killer, who a top British official said appeared to be from the United Kingdom.

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron interrupted a vacation and returned to London for an emergency ministerial meeting to discuss a response to the video.

“We’re very concerned by the apparent fact that the murderer in question is British and we are urgently investigating -- agencies on both sides of the Atlantic -- first of all looking to authenticate the video, to make sure that it is genuine, sadly it appears to be, and then to see if we can identify the individual in question,” British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told ITV News British.

The gruesome video, released online Tuesday, appeared to show an armed militant, who identified himself as with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, beheading Foley. Before his death, Foley delivered a halting, potentially coerced statement condemning U.S. military efforts against ISIS, and the figure clad in black spoke directly to President Obama with what seemed to be a British accent.

“Today your military air force has attacked us daily…Your strikes have caused casualties amongst Muslims,” the figure says in the video.

After the figure in black kills Foley, he threatens another American hostage, Steven Sotloff, saying, “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”

Prior to the video’s release, the U.S. military launched dozens of airstrikes on ISIS targets in support of a Kurdish and Iraqi military offensive against the terror group at and around the Mosul Dam, eventually pushing the extremists off the key piece of infrastructure.

A spokesperson for the White House National Security Council said Tuesday that U.S. intelligence agencies were working “as quickly as possible” to determine the video’s authenticity, but said if real, “we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist.”

GlobalPost, the news organization for which Foley worked when he was abducted in November 2012, said Wednesday that the FBI told Foley’s family that preliminary analysis did not lead them to doubt the video was real.

In a statement posted on a Facebook page for Foley, his mother appeared to confirm that the man in the video was her son, saying the family has “never been prouder” of Foley, who “gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Top officials in the U.S. and the U.K. have long been aware of fighters from their nations joining ISIS. Officials have estimated that ISIS has managed to recruit more than 12,000 foreign fighters to their cause -- including more than 400 Brits and at least 100 Americans.

“Yes, we’ve been saying for years that part of the problem here, part of the reason this matters to us, is because there are significant numbers of British jihadists inside these organizations, learning skills, being brutalized, if you like, by their experiences in Iraq and Syria, many of whom will come back to the U.K. if they’re able to at some point and who pose a threat to us here, some of whom may be sent back here by ISIL (ISIS) for the purpose of conducting attacks on the West,” Hammond said. “We know that it is ISIL’s intention to launch attacks on the west when it is able.”

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Body of Tourist Slain in Bali Returns to United States


Photodisc/Thinkstock(BALI, Indonesia) -- The body of a U.S. woman found stuffed inside a suitcase in Bali is back in Chicago, while her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend remain on the Indonesian island, accused of killing her.

Heather Mack, 18, and her boyfriend, Tommy Schaefer, 21, were arrested on Aug. 13, one day after Sheila von Wiese-Mack’s body was found stuffed inside a silver suitcase. That suitcase was discovered in the trunk of a cab outside the upscale St. Regis Resort in Bali’s exclusive Nusa Dua district, where the relatives were vacationing.

Heather Mack, who says she’s two months pregnant, claims an armed gang killer her mother, and that she and Schafer managed to escape after being kidnapped by the same gang.

But investigators say surveillance video shows the mother and daughter arguing in the hours before she died. The daughter and her boyfriend later called for a taxi, placing several suitcases inside before checking out from the hotel, local police said.

The FBI is in Bali investigating.

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One ISAF Soldier Dies After Attack in Afghanistan


iStock/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- One service member of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) died following an attack in eastern Afghanistan Wednesday.

ISAF said the soldier "died of wounds as a result of an attack." No other details were provided.

Per ISAF policy, the identification of the soldier has been deferred to national authorities.

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Hundreds Fly El Al to Immigrate from US to Israel During Gaza Crisis


iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(JERUSALEM) -- In the wake of the fighting in Gaza, U.S. airlines temporarily grounded flights to Israel last month, but that hasn't stopped supporters in the West from traveling to and relocating there this summer.

More than 600 immigrants from the U.S. and Canada have flown on El Al Airlines, Israel's national carrier, in the last two months to relocate their families, serve in the military and show solidarity with the Israeli citizens, according to the airline.

"Of those, over 100 young men and women will serve in the Israel Defense Forces and a total of 37 families with 107 children from 27 states and three Canadian provinces were on board the latest flight that recently landed," a spokeswoman for El Al Airlines told ABC News.

Organized in collaboration with the Ministry of Aliyah and Immigrant Absorption, The Jewish Agency for Israel, Keren Kayemeth Le’Israel and JNF-USA, charter flights that departed from JFK Airport in New York on July 21 and Aug. 11 were free to passengers moving to Israel. Future Aliyah group flights via El Al will continue to depart on a monthly basis out of Newark Airport in New Jersey.

Others who fly on alternate carriers to immigrate are given a flight credit from Nefesh B’Nefesh between $700 and $900 toward baggage and ticket fees.

The age of recent immigrants has ranged "from a 6-week-old baby to 93-year-old great-grandparent," the El Al spokeswoman said.

Representatives from Nefesh B’Nefesh did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

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Iceland Braced for Volcano Eruption that Could Disrupt Air Traffic


iStock/Thinkstock(REYKJAVIK, Iceland) -- Iceland has canceled many commercial flights for fear that its volcanoes might erupt soon since at least 2,600 small intense earthquakes have rocked the country since Saturday, the Icelandic Meteorological Office said on its website.

Iceland has raised its aviation alert level to orange -- the second most serious level on the five-color scale, indicating an active or imminent eruption.

In April 2010, volcano eruptions rocked Eyjafjallajökull, a small ice cap in Iceland, leading to more than 100,000 flights canceled. More than 10 million passengers were affected due to the eruption and the airline industry lost $2 billion.

Volcano eruptions are a threat to jetliners because the volcanic ash can travel high into the atmosphere and the ash can severely damage jet engines.

The Icelandic Meteorological Office's live update said there are no signs of magma moving to the surface at the moment.

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Ship's Crew Not Monkeying Around with These Stowaways


File photo. iStock/Thinkstock(ROTTERDAM, Netherlands) -- A container ship heading from Malaysia to the Netherlands has some uninvited guests: monkeys.

The monkeys came aboard the Maersk Line container vessel Eugen Maersk while it was docked in Malaysia earlier this month, according to a company spokesman. After the ship’s crew noticed the stowaways, they contacted the Copenhagen Zoo, sending experts there photos of the monkeys to determine how to handle, feed and care for their uninvited guests.

Zoo experts identified them as most likely long-tailed macaque monkeys. The stowaways likely include one older male, one younger male, likely two females and one youngster, according to the company.

The crew safely lured the monkeys into a makeshift cage with food on the advice of zoo experts. After the ship docks in Rotterdam Wednesday, the monkeys will be handed over to Dutch authorities and the Dutch Monkey Foundation to determine whether to return them or give them to a zoo.

Maersk senior press Officer Michael Christian Storgaard admitted it was “a challenge” for the crew to build a cage and figure out how to take care of the monkeys, but they would never have thought of doing anything less.

Storgaard said it’s unclear how the monkeys came aboard or what lured them, noting that all of the containers would have been closed and nothing would have been left out in the open.

It’s not the first time monkeys have stowed away on a Maersk shipping liner, he added, but it’s definitely uncommon.

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The International Effort to Free James Foley


John Cantlie/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Before a video surfaced online appearing to show the brutal murder of American journalist James Foley, U.S. officials made repeated efforts to win freedom for Foley, attempting to identify and reach his captors through Turkish, Russian and Czech intermediaries.

While officials continue to study and try to authenticate the grisly video that appears to show Foley’s execution at the hands of a captor from the Islamic jihadist group ISIS, details are now starting to emerge about the fevered efforts to gain his release.


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Foley’s capture in November 2012 was initially kept quiet by his family, employers and U.S. officials until January 2013, when the family decided to break their silence and plead publicly for his release.

“We want Jim to come safely home, or at least we need to speak with him to know he’s OK,” said his father, John Foley, in a statement posted online then. “Jim is an objective journalist and we appeal for the release of Jim unharmed. To the people who have Jim, please contact us so we can work together toward his release.”

Soon after, Foley’s home state senators from New Hampshire spearheaded a government effort, sending a series of letters that January to State and Justice Department officials urging aggressive action, according to timeline released by Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. State Department officials reached out to the Syrian government through the Czech Protecting Power in Damascus, but had not received any diplomatic note in response.

The State Department also requested “that Russia use its influence with the Syrian regime in support of our efforts,” Ayotte’s office said. “The Russian Ambassador to the U.S., Sergey Kislyak, confirmed he had relayed the request to the Syrians.”

Ayotte wrote directly to the President of the Turkish IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation, Fehmi Bülent Y?ld?r?m, to seek help in securing Foley’s release, but did not indicate whether or how Yildirim acted in response. Turkish towns along the Syrian border are used by many Syrian rebels and some Islamist militants as safe passage into Syria, and Turkish authorities are believed to have some influence in those circles.

In November 2013, with scant signs of progress after a full year with Foley in captivity, Ayotte and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., put out their own public statement, urging that the effort continue.

“As we mark one year since James’ disappearance, we urge the State Department and the FBI to redouble their efforts to find James and secure his release,” the statement said. “We will continue to assist the Foley family and press federal officials to take every reasonable measure to find James and bring him home.”

Tuesday both senators released statements saying they were trying to determine if the gruesome video of Foley’s death is authentic.

“If confirmed, this barbarous and heinous act shocks the conscience and underscores the truly evil nature of the terrorists we confront, who must be defeated,” Ayotte said.

The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment for this report. White House National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said U.S. intelligence officials are working to determine if the video is real and that if it is, the White House would be “appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist.”


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Iraqi Forces Launch Offensive to Take Back Tikrit


iStock/Thinkstock(TIKRIT, Iraq) -- After failing once before, Iraqi forces appear determined to retake the northern city of Tikrit from Islamic State (ISIS) militants.

By the end of Tuesday, the national army, along with local Shiite militias, had driven ISIS fighters out of towns near Tikrit, which is located less than 100 miles northwest of Baghdad.

Known primary as the birthplace of the late dictator Saddam Hussein, the Sunni-dominated city fell into ISIS hands in June as the group overwhelmed local forces with the ferocity of its attacks.

The new offensive to retake Tikrit involves Iraqi ground forces and helicopters coming at ISIS targets from the south and west. By all accounts, no U.S. air power is being used as it was in the retaking of the Mosul Dam earlier this week.

Should Iraqi forces regain control of Tikrit from ISIS, it would be an important victory for the new leaders in Baghdad, who are in the process of forming a new government.

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"New York Times" Reporter Says Afghanistan Won't Let Him Leave


iStock/Thinkstock(KABUL, Afghanistan) -- A New York Times reporter in Kabul was told by a top Afghan official that he could not leave the country pending an investigation of a story he wrote that claims a possible military coup is in the works if an impasse over the presidential election cannot be resolved.

Matthew Rosenberg says that he spoke with the Afghan attorney general Tuesday about his story. According to the Times reporter, the official wanted him to divulge his sources, which Rosenberg refused to do.

Rosenberg said that the attorney general and others were "polite but insistent" and told him to return Wednesday with a lawyer.

Meanwhile, Times international editor Joe Kahn later said in a statement: “The Afghan attorney general’s office has advised Matthew Rosenberg that he must remain in Afghanistan while an investigation into his article is ongoing."

A spokesman for the Afghan attorney general remarked that government officials were concerned that Rosenberg's account of what might happen if a new president isn't chosen soon would "create fear and confusion among the people," necessitating the reporter to stay in Afghanistan until the matter is cleared up.

Rosenberg, who stands by his story, said that top Afghan leaders with strong ties to the military are using the threat of a possible interim government to spur candidates Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah to reach a compromise.

An audit of all eight million ballots is being conducted following Abdullah's allegation of massive voter fraud. The preliminary tally following the run-off election had Ghani far ahead of his challenger.

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US Military Confirms Two More Airstrikes Against ISIS Targets Near Mosul Dam


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(MOSUL, Iraq) -- The U.S. military undertook two more airstrikes against Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) targets near the Mosul Dam on Tuesday.

According to United States Central Command, one of the airstrikes successfully destroyed an ISIS checkpoint. The second airstrike, CENTCOM said, was unsuccessful.

The U.S. military said that the airstrikes were conducted to, "support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish defense forces" while they battle ISIS, and to, "protect critical infrastructure, U.S. personnel and facilities, and support humanitarian efforts."

The strikes came one day after the Department of Defense confirmed that the Iraqi forces had retaken the Mosul Dam.

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Gaza Cease-Fire Broken After Rocket Strikes Tel Aviv


iStockphoto/Thinkstock(GAZA CITY, Gaza) -- Despite optimism and another extension to the Gaza cease-fire on Monday, rockets were launched by both sides on Tuesday, including one rocket that struck an open area in Tel Aviv, an area that hadn't been targeted in over a week.

The Israeli military said it launched air strikes in Gaza as a response to a series of rockets that were allegedly fired at the Israeli communities bordering Gaza. The Israeli Iron Dome intercepted a number of rockets.

Palestinian health officials, however, say that several people in Gaza have been killed.

Earlier Tuesday, the Israel Defense Forces said that the latest rocket-fire was another example of, "terrorists [breaching] the cease-fire and [renewing] fire at Israeli civilians from Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip." The IDF then said that it would retaliate by, "striking terror infrastructure, pursuing terrorists, and eliminating terror capabilities in the Gaza Strip."

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