New information that the Obama administration had sufficient intelligence on American and British hostages held by the Islamic State weeks before a raid sign-off is raising questions about whether the rescue mission may have been needlessly – and fatally – delayed.
The administration allegedly had "strong and specific information" about the location of American James Foley and other hostages in Syria as early as May, Fox News reported, citing an anonymous source described as "close to the discussions."
But approval for the rescue mission didn't come until July, which suggests the operation may have been "unnecessarily delayed" for up to five weeks as the administration developed further intelligence, Fox reported.
The source – whose information was corroborated by others – told Fox the captors were secure enough in their stronghold in Raqqa, Syria, that hostages were moved between a "handful" of facilities, and by late spring the Americans and British had been held for at least three weeks in one location.
Fox pointed out that the timeline seems to conflict with White House claims the administration moved as quickly as intelligence allowed.
A National Security Council statement Monday to Fox did not dispute the strength of the information about hostage location but said: "U.S. forces conducted this operation as soon as the President and his national security team were confident the mission could be carried out successfully and consistent with our policies for undertaking such operations."
After the video of Foley's execution was posted on Aug. 20, his parents said they also believed location information was available "long before" the July rescue attempt.
"Like all Americans, we felt our government would succeed at whatever it decided to do, and were certainly dismayed that the effort was unsuccessful," John Foley, James's father, told Fox at the time.
Foley's family was previously informed that efforts to free their son could land them in jail or facing a lawsuit.
The administration told the family, who had begun raising money to potentially pay a ransom, that it was illegal.
Repeated warning "apparently gave the Foleys the impression that the United States was more concerned about following a rule than bringing James Foley home alive," the Monitor reported.
"As an American I was embarrassed and appalled, you know. I think our efforts to get Jim freed were an annoyance," Diane Foley, James's mother, told CNN.
"I just think we needed a little more information and a little more trust," Mr. Foley told Fox. "We felt like outsiders asking favors."