The parents of the first American killed by Islamic State militants say the U.S. government failed them during their son's long capture.

Diane and John Foley spoke before a large crowd at the University of Arizona on Thursday. The panel included Terry Anderson, the former Associated Press bureau chief who was held captive in Lebanon for nearly seven years, and David McGraw, an attorney for The New York Times.

The Foleys say the government shut them out and failed to help them while their son, freelance journalist James Foley, was being held captive. Foley was kidnapped in Syria in November 2012 and executed in August 2014.

Anderson now teaches at the University of Florida. He says journalism is paramount to democracy and freelance journalists in particular face perilous situations.