James Foley's family and boss had rejected the claims of Syrians who allegedly said the U.S. journalist was killed a year ago. Foley's boss at the Global Post, Phil Balboni, said the claim was a "disgrace" and it was made known to the public, according to reports.
The official spokesperson of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad told media that the Free Syrian Army had "arrested" Foley and sold him to ISIS. Bouthaina Shabaan said Foley was killed a year ago, contrary to the date when the video of Foley's beheading was released to the public. She declared the Syrian government has "definite information," including the United Nations.
However, the claim is rejected by several hostages who were kidnapped along with Foley. Reports said Danish Ottosen was with Foley for 13 months. He had memorised a letter created by Foley for his family. After Ottosen's release, he dictated the letter to Foley's mother.
Balboni had previously revealed that he and Foley's brother received a message from ISIS in November 2013. Foley's captors were asking for ransom money and they were negotiating for their prisoner's freedom.
Balboni said five or six messages followed which gave them the chance to ask Foley's captors for "proof of life." In the last email in August, his captors wrote they would be executing Foley. Balboni strongly believes the Syria government's claim was false based on a "significant body of incontrovertible evidence."
He said multiple witnesses from former hostages also served as proof that Foley was still alive in July.
Meanwhile, British intelligence has identified Foley's executioner as the former British rapper Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary, a 23-year-old man from London. Reports said he travelled to Syria to fight alongside Islamic State militants.
Although the man in the beheading video is covered in black clothing, investigators are capable of putting together clues about his features to help identify him.
The beheading video of James Foley has sparked outrage around the world and prompted Western countries to launch airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.