Reports began emerging Tuesday afternoon that American journalist James Foley, who has been missing for close to two years, has reportedly been executed by the militant group now known as the Islamic State (or ISIS). The fate of another captured journalist, Steven Sotloff, could depend on the U.S. response. The group says it will kill him if the U.S. does not cease airstrikes in Iraq and pull its military presence out of the country, according to NBC News.
Photos and a YouTube video came to light on Tuesday purporting to show Foley’s execution. The graphic video, titled “A Message to #America (from the #IslamicState),” showed a kneeling man identified as "James Wright Foley" being beheaded, according to The Huffington Post
, The video also showed a second man the video creator claims is Sotloff. The executioner shown in the video claims the fate of the second man “depends” on the “next decision” of President Obama.
A Facebook support group for Foley posted this message late Tuesday afternoon:
A veteran journalist, Foley was covering Syria’s civil war as a freelance reporter for the U.S.-based news service GlobalPost when he went missing in that country in November 2012. He was believed to have been kidnapped at gunpoint on Thanksgiving Day, and has not been heard from since. In the video, the man identified as Foley is made to repeat threats against America before being killed.
He previously was held captive in Libya for 44 days, according to NBC News. Like Foley, Sotloff works as a freelancer, representing several news organizations. He also disappeared in Syria last August.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement Tuesday that the "intelligence community is working as quickly as possible" to determine the authenticity of the terrorist video, NBC News reports. "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," she said.