‘A Message to America’: Islamic State video purports to show beheading of U.S. journalist


Islamic State insurgents posted a video on Tuesday purportedly showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley and images of another U.S. journalist whose life they said depended on how the United States acts in Iraq.

The video, titled ‘A Message To America’, presented President Barack Obama with bleak options that could define America’s next phase of involvement in Iraq and the public reaction to it, potentially deepening his hand in a conflict he built much of his presidency on ending.

Obama held back from making a public statement about the beheading until the video could be formally authenticated.

“If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.

The video’s grisly message was unambiguous, warning of greater retaliation to come against Americans following nearly two weeks of U.S. air strikes that have pounded militant positions and halted the advance of Islamic State, which until this month had captured a third of Iraq with little resistance.

Foley, 40, was kidnapped by armed men on Nov. 22, 2012, in northern Syria while on his way to the Turkish border, according to GlobalPost, a Boston-based online publication where Foley had worked as a freelancer. He had reported in the Middle East for five years and had been kidnapped and released in Libya.

{movie}’A message to America’: IS militant beheads U.S. journalist James Foley|right|18000{/movie}

The man on the video, identified as James Foley speaks, giving a message to his family and linking his imminent death to the US government’s bombing campaign of IS targets in Iraq.

Then the masked militant, who speaks with a British accent and identifies himself as an IS member, describes Mr Foley as an American citizen and says: “As a government you have been at the forefront of aggression towards the Islamic State.”

After he speaks, the militant appears to start cutting at his captive’s neck before the video fades to black.

Steven Sotloff, who appeared at the end of the video, went missing in northern Syria while reporting in July 2013. He has written for TIME among other news organizations. He is shown with the warning that his fate depends on President Barack Obama’s next move.

On a Facebook page for Foley, a message from Diane Foley, James’s mother, said: “We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.”

Islamic State had not previously executed American citizens publicly. The video was posted after the United States resumed air strikes in Iraq this month for the first time since the end of the U.S. occupation in 2011.

The militant group has been accused of massacring hundreds of people in areas under their control in Iraq and also in eastern Syria. The violence has displaced an estimated 1.2 million people in Iraq alone. Pursuing an extreme form of Sunni Islam, IS has persecuted non-Muslims such as Yazidis and Christians, as well as Shia Muslims, whom it regards as heretics.

www.belsat.eu/en, following Reuters, bbc.co.uk

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