The US military continued its airstrikes against the group as Obama denounced the group as a “cancer” threatening the entire region. “We will be vigilant and we will be relentless,” he said.
Calling for a global response to the group that now controls territory in both Iraq and Syria, Obama condemned the group’s murder of Foley, whose death he said had left America heartbroken.
US officials said that intelligence analysts had concluded that the video, titled “A Message to America” was authentic. It also showed images of another US journalist, Steven Sotloff, whose fate Islamic State said depends on how the United States acts in Iraq.
The gruesome video presented Obama with bleak options that could define American involvement in Iraq and the public reaction to it, potentially dragging him further into a conflict he built much of his presidency on ending.
“Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocked the conscience of the entire world,” Obama said in brief comments to reporters in Edgartown, Massachusetts, where he has been vacationing.
He said he had spoken with Foley’s family.
“The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless,” Obama said. “When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.”
British anti-terrorist police began an investigation of the video, in which Foley’s killer spoke with a London accent.
British prime minister David Cameron interrupted his holiday to return to London.
Foreign secretary Philip Hammond said he was not surprised to hear the British accent and that large numbers of British nationals were fighting in Iraq and Syria.
France said it wanted the permanent members of the UN Security Council and regional countries to coordinate action against Islamic State.
President François Hollande called for an international conference to discuss how to tackle the group.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon condemned “the horrific murder of journalist James Foley, an abominable crime that underscores the campaign of terror the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant continues to wage against the people of Iraq and Syria,” UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Iraqi foreign minister Hoshiyar Zebari urged the world to back his country against Islamic State.
Germany and Italy said they were ready to send arms to bolster the military capabilities of Iraqi Kurds fighting Islamic State.
The video’s message was unambiguous, warning of greater retaliation to come against Americans following nearly two weeks of US air strikes that have pounded militant positions and halted the advance of Islamic State, which until this month had captured a third of Iraq with little resistance.
Captured and held for six weeks while covering the uprising in Libya, he knew the risks when he went to Syria two years ago to cover the escalating violence there.
Foley was snatched again in Syria in November 2012 when the car he was riding in was stopped by four militants in a battle zone that Sunni rebel fighters and government forces were trying to control.
Foley’s family confirmed his death on a webpage created to rally support for him, saying he “gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people”.
Diane and John Foley addressed the media outside their home in Rochester, New Hampshire, yesterday. It was an appearance where wrenching grief over their son’s death mingled with shaking laughter over his life. Diane Foley says her son was courageous to the end and called his death “just evil”. John Foley says the family was holding up but that it feels like a bad dream.
Foley, 40, and another journalist were working in the northern province of Idlib in Syria when they were kidnapped near the village of Taftanaz.