Slain journalist's parents on Today Show this morning

James Foley
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We're learning more about an attempted rescue of American hostages held by the terror group ISIS. Among those captives was James Foley, an American journalist who was recently beheaded in a gruesome video posted online.

Dozens of the most elite U.S. commandos from units like Delta Force and Seal Team Six went into Syria by helicopters, but when the commandos arrived, the hostages were not there. Several ISIS operatives were killed. One American was slightly injured.

On the Today Show this morning, James Foley's parents, John and Diane Foley, spoke publicly about what happened. They say that before their son was killed by ISIS they had hoped they could negotiate with the terrorist group, and promise that their son's legacy will live on.

"Jim's strength and love was the answer to prayer...Jim will live on," the Foleys told TODAY's Tamron Hall Friday.

ISIS militants have claimed responsibility for executing Foley. The group sent Foley's parents an email on August 12, stating that their son would be "executed." The email was the first communication the Foleys had received from their son's captors since December of 2013, which initially left them hopeful they could find a way to bring him home safely.

"I actually was excited to see an email despite the conclusion that they would execute Jim,'' John Foley said. "We underestimated that point. I did not realize how brutal they were, and I actually hoped we could engage in negotiations with them if they were willing to send any sort of communication because we had none prior."

A French journalist who was released in April and shared a cell with Foley spoke about his courage and noted how he was treated more harshly because he was American.

"Jim's courage and particularly his compassion and love in that box, which they called it, was an answer to prayer,'' his mother said. "We had so many people praying for Jimmy. We had begged for prayer, but we didn't need to. Everyone was so good in praying, and Jim's strength and love was the answer to prayer."

The family has received a call from Pope Francis comforting them for their loss.

"Pope Francis was so dear because he is grieving himself having just lost three members of his family and (with) his nephew critically ill,'' Diane said. "Here in the midst of his tremendous grief, he took the time to call. He was just so kind."

(NBC News contributed to this report.)