LONDON (AA) – Britain has condemned what appears to be the videoed beheading of an American journalist seized in Syria two year ago.
The video – broadcast on, and quickly removed from, YouTube channels Tuesday evening – shows 40-year-old James Foley dressed in an an orange jump suit kneeling down in a desert terrain. After an executioner blames what is about to happen on U.S. involvement in Iraq, he takes a knife to Foley’s throat.
The jumpsuit is similar in style to those worn by detainees in Guantanamo Bay – the U.S. holding centre for what it calls “enemy combatants.”
The executioner appears to speak in a British accent, raising fears that he may be one of 400 young British Muslims the U.K. goverment has said it suspects have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State – previously known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Interviewed by the BBC on Wednesday morning, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond called the apparent execution “brutal” and said he felt “absolute horror.”
Speaking of the likelihood that the man appearing in the video was from the U.K., Hammond said, “We’re absolutely aware that there are significant numbers of British nationals involved in terrible crimes, probably in the commission of atrocities, making jihad with ISIL [now known as IS] and other extremist organizations.”
“Many of these people may seek at some point to return to the U.K. and they would then pose a direct threat to our domestic security,” Hammond added.
Freelance journalist Foley has been missing since November 2012 when he was seized by armed men. He had previously covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, where he also been captured in 2011 and held for 44 days.
He was one of two journalists believed to be held by the Islamic State, fellow American Steven Sotloff appearing at the end of Tuesday’s video, saying that his life depends on U.S. President Barack Obama’s next move.
Foley’s mother, Diane, said in a statement Wednesday that she had never been prouder of her son.
“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.”
Foley’s final words before his apparent death were spoken as his executioner stood by his side.
“I wish I had more time, I wish I could have the hope of freedom and seeing my family once again, but that ship has sailed,” he says.
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