The Islamic State may be trying to sell the remains of murdered American journalist James Foley.
Three sources in contact with the Islamic State or its associates told Buzzfeed News that that they would be willing to deliver Foley's body across the Turkish border. They also reported that the middlemen were willing to provide a DNA sample as part of a deal negotiation, and that the amount of money being sought is $1 million.
The middlemen have been kept anonymous by Buzzfeed, which said that one of the men claimed his motivation was "a humanity case," and an attempt to help the grieving family find closure. Another was less worried about appearances: "This is business," he reportedly said.
Foley's brutal death in August shocked the world when a video of his beheading at the hands of Islamic State militants surfaced online.
Since then, the Islamic State has released videotaped executions of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker Alan Henning, and US aid worker Peter Kassig. Hostages still being held by Islamic State militants include unnamed 26-year-old US woman and British journalist John Cantlie. Cantlie has not publicly been threatened with murder yet, but he is being forced to present an Islamic State "series" titled "Lend Me Your Ears."
One issue that has been hotly debated since the murders began is the US and British policy of not paying ransoms for kidnapped citizens — something that released hostages have said was the dividing line between deciding who lived and who died.
In response to the idea of charging a ransom for the remains of Foley, a senior US diplomat called the idea "disgusting," while a US State Department official said that they were "seeking more information" on the credibility of the claim.
Released hostages remembered Foley as a good journalist and a kind man, and one who kept others entertained by proposing games like Risk, shared his rations, and offered another prisoner his only blanket in the cold of the Syrian winter.
In a letter dictated by Foley and memorized by another hostage, the journalist told his family: "I know you are thinking of me and praying for me. And I am so thankful. I feel you all especially when I pray. I pray for you to stay strong and to believe. I really feel I can touch you even in this darkness when I pray."
Foley mentioned how he wanted any remaining money in his bank account to be distributed, and ended with a note to his grandmother: "Grammy, please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing. I plan to take you out to Margarita's when I get home. Stay strong because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life."
In a statement after his death, his parents said: "We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people… He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist, and person."
Northwestern University, where Foley studied, announced last week that they were renaming the journalism school's medal for courage the James Foley Medill Medal for Courage in honor of Foley, who was also awarded the medal posthumously.
On November 27, Foley's family posted on Facebook: "Two Thanksgivings ago, James Foley was kidnapped in Syria. Thinking of him today and missing him dearly, but so thankful for the time he was in our lives, and our memories together."
Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: @sallyhayd