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Islamic State group says it beheaded Rochester journalist James Foley

  • FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2011, file photo, journalist James Foley poses for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press, in Boston. A video released by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of Foley by the militant group was released Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Foley, from Rochester, N.H., went missing in 2012 in northern Syria while on assignment for Agence France-Press and the Boston-based media company GlobalPost. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

    FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2011, file photo, journalist James Foley poses for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press, in Boston. A video released by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of Foley by the militant group was released Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Foley, from Rochester, N.H., went missing in 2012 in northern Syria while on assignment for Agence France-Press and the Boston-based media company GlobalPost. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

  • A ribbon is tied to a tree outside the home of American freelance journalist James Foley, on Tuesday Aug. 19, 2014, in Rochester, N.H. A video by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of Foley by the militant group was released Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

    A ribbon is tied to a tree outside the home of American freelance journalist James Foley, on Tuesday Aug. 19, 2014, in Rochester, N.H. A video by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of Foley by the militant group was released Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

  • FILE - In this Friday, May 27, 2011, file photo, journalist James Foley poses for a photo during an interview with The Associated Press, in Boston. A video released by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of Foley by the militant group was released Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014. Foley, from Rochester, N.H., went missing in 2012 in northern Syria while on assignment for Agence France-Press and the Boston-based media company GlobalPost. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)
  • A ribbon is tied to a tree outside the home of American freelance journalist James Foley, on Tuesday Aug. 19, 2014, in Rochester, N.H. A video by Islamic State militants that purports to show the killing of Foley by the militant group was released Tuesday. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)

The Islamic State militant group claimed yesterday to have beheaded a photojournalist from Rochester in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.

A video posted on YouTube, later removed, purported to show the execution of James Foley after he recited a statement in which he called the U.S. government “my real killers.” A second prisoner, said to be Steven Joel Sotloff, like Foley an American journalist who disappeared while covering Syria’s civil war, then appears in the video.

U.S. intelligence officials said last night they were still evaluating the video and could not immediately authenticate it.

Foley’s family, however, confirmed his death in a statement posted on a webpage that was created to rally support for his release.

In the statement, Foley’s mother, Diane Foley, said the journalist, “gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.”

Several state officials issued brief statements on Foley last night.

Gov. Maggie Hassan called Foley a “talented and fearless photojournalist” who captured stories of heartbreak and hope.

U.S. Rep. Carol Shea-Porter remembered Foley as a child and said she would “not allow evil” to change her memories of the journalist.

U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen praised Foley’s dedication to freedom of the press and called his apparent murder a “cowardly act of terrorism.”

And U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte called Foley’s death a “barbaric and heinous act.”

President Obama is expected to make a statement today, an official told the Associated Press.

Foley, 40, was working in Syria for the Boston-based news website GlobalPost when he disappeared on Thanksgiving Day in 2012.

Philip Balboni, GlobalPost’s chief executive and co-founder, made the following statement: “On behalf of John and Diane Foley, and also GlobalPost, we deeply appreciate all of the messages of sympathy and support that have poured in since the news of Jim’s possible execution first broke. We have been informed that the FBI is in the process of evaluating the video posted by the Islamic State to determine if it is authentic. Until we have that determination, we will not be in a position to make any further statement. We ask for your prayers for Jim and his family.”

Sotloff, a freelancer who worked for several news organizations, disappeared in Syria last August.

In addition to Foley and Sotloff, at least three other Americans are believed to be captive in Syria, including Austin Tice, a freelance journalist whose articles appeared in the Washington Post before his disappearance in August 2012. No one has claimed to be holding them.

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 66 journalists, all but 10 of them Syrian, have been killed covering the Syrian war. If the video is authenticated, Foley will be the first American journalist known to be executed since the conflict began in early 2011. The video evoked the 2002 taped execution in Pakistan of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl by al-Qaida.

Islamic State, an offshoot of al-Qaida, is the most powerful among a number of extremist organizations that have emerged during the Syrian civil war, which began as a popular uprising against President Bashar Assad. Fighting against both Assad and U.S.-backed rebels, the militants now control much of eastern Syria and claim to have established an Islamic caliphate spanning Syria and neighboring Iraq.

As the group has grown, it has merged with the group formerly known as al-Qaida in Iraq, under the leadership of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. According to U.S. intelligence, it numbers in the thousands, including foreign fighters from Europe and the United States.

In April, Islamic State fighters swept across the border into northern Iraq, taking over the city of Mosul before moving southward to within 60 miles of Baghdad. Extensive reports of executions, including beheadings and crucifixions, have emerged from areas under the group’s control.

Early this month, amid reports of stranded and besieged Iraqi minorities threatened with execution, the militants advanced eastward toward Irbil, the capital of the semiautonomous Kurdish region of Iraq.

On Aug. 7, Obama authorized U.S. airstrikes to rescue stranded minorities and protect U.S. personnel and facilities in Irbil and Baghdad. On Monday, after a total of 68 strikes from fighter jets, bombers and drones, Obama announced that Iraqi and Kurdish forces, with U.S. air support, had retaken a strategic dam north of Mosul from the militants and that they had been pushed back from Irbil.

Within hours of that announcement, the Islamic State posted an online message warning it would attack Americans “in any place” in response to the airstrikes. “We will drown all of you in blood,” it said.

The title of the video posted yesterday was “A Message to America” and was produced by the Islamic State’s media arm, according to the Site Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist websites.

Foley grew up in New Hampshire and studied history at Marquette University. He later taught in Arizona, Massachusetts and Chicago before switching careers to become a journalist, which he viewed as a calling. Foley reported from some of the most dangerous recent crises and was imprisoned for 44 days in Libya in 2011 by forces loyal to deposed leader Moammar Gadhafi.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Legacy Comments15

A nuisance, GWTW!!!! Seriously, a nuisance! You keep telling yourself that! I cannot believe how asleep and naïve some folks are. My friend, Isis has one objective, to take over the world and kill anyone who does not bow to Allah, period. Ants are a nuisance, these animals are evil to the core and need to be taken out.

Reference that part of: "U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen praised Foley’s dedication to freedom of the press " as in what? Somehow she supports freedom of anything? No! When she was governor and somebody wanted an apology out of the government for a wrong by bringing a Pardon application to the Executive Council, she at a breakfast meeting of when asked by then Councilor Ray Burton of saying that of to at least give the guy a hearing, of she said: no, that she would "negate" anyway even if they all voted for a hearing since he was a Republican! And so for her to condemn dictatorial process after being such a dictator herself makes her out to be the hypocrite she is.

Hillary & NObama were trying to smuggle arms through Turkey to ISIS and that is what got the Ambassador and 3 others killed in Benghazi. NObama needs to go and Hillary should not be given the keys to the White House. Now this - when will America wake up?

First my sympathies to the Foley Family. I can't imagine what they are going through receiving this horrible news. Our Country better wake up and go after these barbaric animals with everything we have, or we will soon be seeing this on our own streets. Isis is evil to the core and needs to be totally destroyed or else. They have already stated they are coming for us and I believe them. This is not the time for Neville Chamberlin sentiments. The hour is late. Sadly, our President flies in another orbit and does not have the will and guts to do what is needed. Yes, I get it. America is tired of this war business. Guess what! If we do nothing the alternative will be unthinkable.

We have a cross between Neville Chamberlain and Rodney King as a leader. Trust our enemies without question and then when they do things like this say: "why can't we all just get along?" Obama is a failure as a president and leader. He would rather be golfing, dancing up a storm on Martha's vineyard and picking basketball brackets. If he took a long look in the mirror, I doubt that his narcissism would allow him to feel the rightful shame that he has earned.

This is a warning to all of us. You CAN'T reason with the 12th Century heathens in the Middle East. They are ignorant, savage and are not worthy of trying to negotiate any kind of an agreement. We know where they are, napalm sounds like a solution and honestly if we capture any of them, think that fitting punishment is to publically humiliate them on television just before beheading them. Those who argue that fundamental Islam is not a threat to us are simply naïve.

Ditto, ditto and thank you!! Isis has now beheaded an American Citizen who represents us all. We need immediately to convene Congress and declare war and wipe these animals out of existence. We have the tools to do it. For heavens sake, can we please end the politics and Harvard Debating Club mentality and get with the program before it is too late.

Thanks for demonstrating how much more civilized you'd have us be than the fanatical extremists of ISIL/ISIS. The bank-rolling of fundamentalist Islam that provides the philosophical root of extremism is by Saudi Arabia via that regime's embrace of the fundamentalist Wahabi strain. Perhaps it's time for some friendly persuasion with our Saudi 'allies'. Or would anything we do only worsen an already bad situation? There may be no good options here, only less bad alternatives. Just as we did in Egypt, Libya, and Syria, we over-estimated the strength of the Arab Spring, and the extent of the democratic resistance to dictators. Now we find ourselves allied with Assad and Iran in fighting ISIS.

Friendly persuasion and "let's talk about it", coupled with the Obama apology tour and his embrace of the Muslim Brotherhood are the cause of this. We should never have embraced the Arab Spring or the overthrow of leaders in Egypt and Libya, we had them under control and where we wanted them. All of this could have been avoided if we had a leader in the White House and not a puffed up ideologue. Civilized? They understand nothing BUT brutality, you have to fight them with that.

I guess we won't be seeing anymore stories about Obama single handedly retaking the Mosul Dam...

Laurie, your comment is beneath contempt.

No Laurie, we will not see that. Today's press conference must have really hurt the feelings of ISIS. Never in my lifetime have I been so ashamed of a sitting president and I really did not like Nixon.

Did Gee Dubya leave you beaming with pride, Itsa?

No, he is about #6 on my list of shameful presidents. He follows the president who lusted in his heart and the one who "did not have sex with that woman, Monica Lewinsky".

''We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they're a nuisance" - John Kerry 2004

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