By Alana Semuels
Los Angeles Times (MCT)
NEW YORK – A video posted online Tuesday purported to show the beheading of journalist James Foley by the militant group Islamic State, nearly two years after the American disappeared in Syria.
A spokeswoman for the National Security Council, Caitlin Hayden, issued a statement saying that U.S. intelligence was working “as quickly as possible” to determine whether the video is authentic.
“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.
The video, which was posted on YouTube and later taken down, says the killing was retaliation for U.S. airstrikes by the United States against Islamic State militants in northern Iraq.
It shows a person who appears to be Foley kneeling in the desert in an orange robe as a masked man in black stands beside him. He recites a statement calling the U.S. government his “real killers” before he is beheaded.
Horrific images of the killing were also circulated on social media.
Foley went missing in 2012 while working as a freelance journalist for the Boston-based site GlobalPost. There are currently 25 journalists missing in Syria, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
FindJamesFoley.org, a website dedicated to securing the journalist’s release, acknowledged the video on its Twitter account, but said it had not been able to confirm the authenticity of the clip.
“We know that many of you are looking for confirmation or answers. Please be patient until we all have more,” the tweet read.
Philip Balboni, GlobalPost chief executive and co-founder, issued a statement expressing appreciation for the messages of sympathy and support that have poured in since news of Foley’s possible killing 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,” the statement said. “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.”