LONDON / WASHINGTON D.C. (AA) – The Islamic State (IS) militant group released Tuesday a video which allegedly shows the beheading of 40-year-old American journalist James Foley.
The video — broadcast on, and quickly removed from, YouTube channels Tuesday evening — shows 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.
Militants identified the victim as Foley, a freelance journalist who went missing in Syria in late 2012 while working for the Boston-based GlobalPost.
The executioner appears to speak in a British accent, raising fears that he may be one of the approximately 400 young British Muslims the U.K. government has said it suspects have traveled to Syria to join the Islamic State — previously known as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Britain has condemned what appears to be the videoed beheading.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was on holiday with his family, is returning to London to meet Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond and senior security service officials to identify the man shown killing Foley, who spoke on the video with a British accent.
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.
In the video, titled “A Message to America,” the victim is shown reading a message, addressed to a brother supposedly in the U.S Air Force, stating U.S. airstrikes in Iraq were the reason for his death.
“When your colleagues dropped that bomb, they signed my death certificate,” the message said.
The militant addressed U.S. President Barack Obama saying: “any attempts from you, Obama, to deny Muslims their safety of living under the caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people.”
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said U.S. intelligence is working to determine the authenticity of the video, which has been removed from the Internet.
“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,” Hayden said.
Another missing journalist, thought to be Steven Joel Sotloff, was also pictured in the video as a threat that he could also be killed.
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.
The U.S. have conducted dozens of airstrikes on Islamic State militants in Iraq since August 7 in order to halt the militants gains, especially in northern Iraq.
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