Obama: Nation 'heartbroken' by Foley's beheading

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by KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on August 20, 2014 at 11:49 AM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 20 at 2:08 PM

U.S. intelligence analysts have determined that the video showing the execution of American photojournalist James Foley by Islamic State militants is real, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said Wednesday.

"We have reached the judgment that this video is authentic," Hayden said.

President Obama spoke about Foley's death from his vacation at Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, saying the "entire world is appalled" and the nation "heartbroken" by the news of Foley's murder.

Obama accused IS of torture, rape and murder, saying the IS militants speak for no religion and terrorize their neighbors.

"Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim," he said. "Their ideology is bankrupt."

The future, Obama said, is shaped by people like Foley. He urged Muslim nations to band together to stop IS, which is waging a war aimed at building an arch-conservative Sunni state across a swath of Syria and Iraq.

"We will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope," Obama vowed.

Obama made no mention of missing U.S. journalist Steven Joel Sotloff, who is shown alive in the Islamic State video titled "A Message to America." In the video, a man wearing a black hood says Foley's beheading is a revenge killing for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

"Any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their right to live in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people," the hooded man says in a British accent with Foley kneeling beside him. Foley, 40, delivers what appears to be a scripted statement in which he asserts that U.S. airstrikes on Islamic State militants in Iraq "signed my death warrant."

After the beheading, the killer holds Sotloff and warns Obama that Sotloff's life "depends on your next decision."

Foley's parents held a press conference Wednesday, saying they had spoken briefly with Obama before he spoke. The couple thanked supporters for their prayers and lauded their son's resolve.

"So many people were praying for him, and I really think that gave him unusual courage," said Diane Foley. "Jim had big heart -- that's what we shared with President Obama. We pray that Jim's death can bring our country together in a strong way with the values Jim held dear. Jim would never want us to hate or be bitter.

"We are just very proud of Jimmy."

In London, the United Kingdom's Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the beheading may have been undertaken by a British national.In an interview with the BBC, Hammond acknowledged that the militant shown in the video with Foley — who was seized in Syria in 2012 while covering the civil war there — spoke with a British accent. It's possible that the perpetrator of the shocking killing could be British, he 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 IS and other extremists organizations," Hammond told the BBC.

"This is something we have been tracking and dealing with for many, many months and I don't think this video changes anything," he said. "It just heightens awareness of a situation which is very grave."

"IS is clearly sending a message to the U.S. government with this act, but it's also sending a message to the American people," said Raffaello Pantucci, a researcher at Royal United Services Institute in London, a security think tank. "The American public will look at this and think: 'What is Obama doing (in Iraq)?'"

Pantucci said that British government estimates suggest there may be as many as 500-880 British nationals involved in jihad activities for IS. "But we don't really know what that means. We don't know if that is nationals that have gone out there, stayed out there, died there, or have lived there all along," he said.

British Prime Minister David Cameron's office said in a statement he was cutting short his vacation and returning to the capital to discuss the situation in Iraq and Syria and the threats posed by IS.

"The U.K. has never really been able to tackle the problem of radicalization," Pantucci said. "There's been a trend of individuals who have been drawn to these (Mideast) conflicts from here. The thing about Syria and Iraq is that it is such an accessible narrative. These people can go look online and just decide to participate. With it's proximity to Europe it's just so easy to do."

Christopher Davidson, a Mideast expert at Durham University, said there's been a lack of attention to the flow of Westerners to the region. "As long as they have been supposedly fighting the (Syrian President Bashar) Assad regime, authorities have turned a blind eye to it. Now that they are going to Iraq, we are starting to experience the blow back," he said.

In 2002, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl was abducted in Pakistan by British national Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. Pearl was later killed in Pakistan, although the specific circumstances of his death remain unclear.

"Our hearts go out to the family of journalist James Foley. We know the horror they are going through." Pearl's mother, Ruth, said in a tweet from the Daniel Pearl Foundation.

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