"Three times he intimidated us with that message," she told ABC News. "We were horrified he would say that. He just told us we would be prosecuted. We knew we had to save our son. We had to try."
James Foley family: Obama officials vowed criminal charges if we paid son's ransom →
She said the warnings emanated from the White House's National Security Council — specifically, from a highly decorated military officer who serves on the council's staff.