Antakya (Turkey) The Sunni jihadi organisation Islamic State (IS) wants $1 million for releasing the remains of the slain US journalist James Foley, media reported on Thursday.
Sources in contact with the IS said that the militant group was willing to provide a DNA sample from Foley's remains to facilitate the deal, Buzzfeed News reported.
If true, the attempted sale would highlight the ruthlessness behind IS's hostage-taking enterprise that has provided the militant group with deep reservoirs of funds and publicity.
Abducted in Syria in November 2012, Foley was beheaded Aug 10 this year by the IS as shown in a video released online by the militant group.
At one point early this year, the IS held 23 Western hostages in Syria. Fifteen Europeans were freed as governments reportedly paid millions of dollars in ransom, but the British and US hostages were left behind.
Both governments have refused to negotiate for hostages, or to allow families to pay ransom. In the months since Foley's death, the IS had released videotaped executions of US journalist Steven Sotloff, British aid worker Alan Henning, and US aid worker Peter Kassig.
British journalist John Cantlie and a US woman still remain in IS hands, according to media reports.
The trade in Western hostages has created a shadowy marketplace in which middlemen seek to negotiate deals in order to receive commission.
Foley's parents have said that the US government threatened them with prosecution if they paid a ransom for their son's release.
"It will be like a shame for the US government," said an official of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), a US-backed rebel coalition, who was involved in the proposed deal.
"People will ask why you brought the body, but you didn't bring him when he was alive," he added.
Holding Western captives for ransom is one of the main ways that terrorist groups like the IS raise money, according to a Daily Mail report.
On the other hand, a New York Times report published this year, which was cited by the Daily Mail, found that the Al Qaeda had made at least $125 million from ransoms since 2008, with $66 million being raised in 2013 alone.