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Journalist ‘beheaded’ in message to US

The video showing a masked Islamic State militant holding a knife next to a man purported to be US journalist James Foley. (Reuters)

Edgartown, Aug. 20: US President Barack Obama declared that the entire world was “appalled” by the beheading of an American journalist by militants in Syria, but vowed that America would not change course in Iraq, where the United States has been conducting airstrikes against terrorists, despite threats by the group to kill another reporter in the days ahead.

“The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people,” Obama said in a brief statement from Martha’s Vineyard, where he was vacationing. “We will be vigilant and we will be relentless.”

Before speaking to reporters, Obama said he placed a phone call to the parents of James Foley, the slain reporter, telling them that Americans were “are all heartbroken at their loss”. He described Foley as a “journalist, a son, a brother and a friend” who was “taken from us in an act of violence that shocked the conscience of the entire world”.

But the President’s harshest and most emotional words were reserved for the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the militants who released a video of the killing of Foley yesterday.

American intelligence agencies today verified the authenticity of the video, which shows a masked man decapitating James Foley, an American journalist who was kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago. It also shows another American captive, the journalist Steven Sotloff, and warns that he would be the next to die.

An image from a video posted by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, which the group said was the execution of James Foley.

The President called ISIS a “cancer” in the region and accused them of having “rampaged across cities and villages, killing unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence”. He said it had committed torture and rape against innocent women and children and continued to enslave those they did not kill.

“No faith teaches people to massacre innocents,” Obama said. “No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day. People like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future is won by people who build and not destroy.”

Obama gave no indication that the gruesome video would change the United States strategy in Iraq, although he vowed to protect Americans from the militants and bring those responsible to justice. He made no mention of Sotloff, who was shown in a similar orange outfit to the one Foley was wearing. Sotloff’s life depends on Obama’s “next move,” a masked militant in the video says.

“When people harm Americans, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done, and we act against ISIL standing alongside others,” the President said tody, using another name for the militant group.

Less than an hour after Obama spoke, the United States Central Command announced that American warplanes had conducted 14 airstrikes on ISIS targets in the hours after the video was released. The strikes all took place near the Mosul Dam, central command said in a news release.

 
 
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