U.S. special forces mounted a mission earlier this year to rescue journalist James Wright Foley and other hostages from the extremist group Islamic State (ISIS), only to find that the hostages were not there, ABC News reported on Wednesday, citing “senior administration officials.”
The officials said the mission was based on a “broad collection of intelligence” saying the hostages were being held in an unidentified location inside Syria. The mission involved “several dozen” American troops, who encountered ISIS forces after arriving.
But according to ABC, while the U.S. forces reportedly only suffered one minor injury, they discovered the hostages were not at the location, despite the prior intelligence.
“The truth is, we don’t know,” one official was quoted as saying . “And that’s the truth. When we got there, they weren’t there. We don’t know why that is.”
Foley had been missing since November 2012 after being captured. ISIS released a video on Monday of one of its members beheading him, which quickly drew condemnation from President Barack Obama.
“No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day,” Obama said on Wednesday. “Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim, out of expediency, that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is, they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.”
The U.S. has been attacking ISIS with airstrikes for the past few days, in support of Iraqi Kurds fighting to stop the group from establishing a self-identified “caliphate” in their country.