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OBAMA URGES JOINT EFFORT TO END JIHADIST ‘CANCER’ Resolve...after beheading

WASHINGTON, Aug 20, (Agencies): The United States stood firm Wednesday in its fight with Islamic State militants who beheaded a US journalist in Iraq, pledging to continue attacking the group despite its threats to kill another American hostage.

The US military continued its airstrikes against the group as President Barack Obama denounced the group as a “cancer” threatening the entire region. “We will be vigilant and we will be relentless,” Obama said. Calling for a global response to the group that now controls territory in both Iraq and Syria, Obama condemned the group’s execution of journalist James Foley, whose death he said had left America heartbroken.

In forceful remarks, Obama accused the Islamic State of torturing, raping and murdering thousands of people in “cowardly acts of violence.” “ISIL speaks for no religion,” Obama said, using an alternative name for the Islamic State. “Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents.

No just god would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day.” Obama’s remarks affirmed that the US would not change its military posture in Iraq in response to Foley’s killing. Since the video was released Tuesday, the US military has pressed ahead by conducting nearly a dozen airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Iraq.

The president said he’d told Foley’s family in a phone call Wednesday that the United States joins them in honoring all that Foley did, praising the journalist for his work telling the story of the crisis in Syria, where Foley was captured in 2012. “Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers,” Obama said. He spoke from Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts, where the president is on vacation. Foley, 40, from Rochester, New Hampshire, went missing in northern Syria in November 2012 while freelancing for Agence France-Presse and the Boston-based media company GlobalPost.

The car he was riding in was stopped by four militants in a contested battle zone that both Sunni rebel fighters and government forces were trying to control. He had not been heard from since. The beheading marks the first time the Islamic State has killed an American citizen since the Syrian conflict broke out in March 2011, upping the stakes in an increasingly chaotic and multilayered war. The killing is likely to complicate US involvement in Iraq and the Obama administration’s efforts to contain the group as it expands in both Iraq and Syria.

The group is the heir apparent of the militancy known as al-Qaida in Iraq, which beheaded many of its victims, including American businessman Nicholas Berg in 2004. The video released on websites Tuesday appears to show the increasing sophistication of the Islamic State group’s media unit and begins with scenes of Obama explaining his decision to order airstrikes. It then cuts to Foley, kneeling in the desert, next to a black-clad militant with a knife to his throat. After the captive speaks, the militant is shown apparently beginning to cut at his neck; the video fades to black before the beheading is completed. The next shot shows the captive lying dead. The video appears to have been shot in an arid area; there is no vegetation to be seen and the horizon is in the distance where the sand meets the gray-blue sky.

Warns At the end of the video, a militant shows a second man, who was identified as another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warns that he could be the next captive killed. Sotloff was kidnapped near the Syrian-Turkish border in August 2013; he had freelanced for Time, the National Interest and MediaLine. Revulsion The apparent beheading by jihadists of a US journalist sparked worldwide revulsion on Wednesday and drew pledges by outraged Western governments to aid those battling the militants. In a video posted online Tuesday, a masked militant is shown beheading a man resembling James Foley, who has been missing since he was seized in Syria in November 2012. Europe’s top powers swiftly condemned the jihadists, with France warning the world faced the “most serious international situation” since 2001.

British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his holiday and rushed back to London, calling an urgent meeting to discuss how to deal with IS after the man filmed carrying out the apparent beheading had a British accent, prompting speculation he is a UK national. In a highly significant move, Germany said it was ready to send weapons to support Iraqi Kurds in their battle against IS, while France vowed to hold a conference on the security of the region and the battle against the “barbaric” militants. Rights group Amnesty International said the apparent execution-style killing was a “war crime”.

Foley’s mother Diane paid tribute to her son, in a Facebook message to supporters. “We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people,” she said. “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 was an experienced correspondent who had covered the war in Libya before heading to Syria to follow the revolt against Bashar al-Assad’s regime, contributing to news site GlobalPost, Agence France-Presse (AFP) and other media outlets.

AFP chairman Emmanuel Hoog described Foley “as a brave, independent and impartial journalist” whose work in Syria and other war zones was “widely admired”. According to witnesses, Foley was seized in the northern Syrian province of Idlib on Nov 22, 2012.

In the nearly five-minute video, titled “A Message to America,” IS declares that Foley was killed because Obama ordered air strikes against IS in northern Iraq. The beheading is carried out in an open desert area with no immediate signs as to whether it is in Iraq or Syria by a black-clad masked militant who speaks in English. Hunt British authorities launched a hunt on Wednesday for a man with a British accent whose voice featured on an Islamic State (IS) video purporting to show the beheading of an American journalist, as Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond voiced concern about Britons joining Islamist militants overseas.

The voice appeared to come from a masked IS jihadist, dressed in black, who stood next to a kneeling James Foley in the video released online. Hammond said British intelligence services would work closely with the United States to try to identify the man and a specialist counter-terrorism police unit launched an investigation into the contents of the video.

But he said he was not surprised to hear the accent as the government has repeatedly voiced concerns about rising numbers of British youths heading overseas to fight in Syria or other conflicts then potentially posing a risk in their home country when they return. “We are 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 extremist organisations,” Hammond said. Britain, which has about 2.7 million Muslims in its 63 million population, has been considered a prime target for militant Islamists since the 9/11 attacks in the United States and has been fearful of its nationals travelling to militant training camps abroad then posing a security risk at home.

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