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Family mourns murdered journalist James Foley, Obama condemns Islamic State

August 20, 2014 at 6:08 PM EDT
Journalist James Foley was confirmed as the man executed by beheading in a video released by the Islamic State group. Militants also threatened to kill another American journalist if the U.S. didn’t stop airstrikes in Iraq. Foley, 40, was abducted in Syria in 2012 while reporting for GlobalPost, after being abducted previously in Libya. Gwen Ifill reports on reactions to his brutal murder.
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GWEN IFILL: As family, friends and colleagues mourned the death of American journalist James Foley, President Obama today had strong words for the Sunni extremists who killed the reporter.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocks the conscience of the entire world.

GWEN IFILL: The president condemned James Foley’s killers in a brief appearance at Martha’s Vineyard.

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: 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. From governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer, so that it doesn’t spread. There has to be a clear rejection of these kinds of nihilistic ideologies.

GWEN IFILL: The National Security Council confirmed it is Foley in the gruesome video posted yesterday by the Islamic State group titled “A Message to America.” The NewsHour has chosen not to show any of the images.

Foley was abducted in Syria in November 2012, while reporting for the news site GlobalPost.

JAMES FOLEY: A grim routine has taken hold in the fight for Syria’s largest city.

GWEN IFILL: Just a few months earlier, he filed this report on what life looked like in a rebel-controlled neighborhood of Aleppo. His career as a freelance photojournalist spanned a number of countries and conflicts.

In 2010, reporting for the “NewsHour” in Afghanistan, Foley found himself in the line of fire, as he shared a firsthand look at a Taliban ambush on an American infantry unit.

JAMES FOLEY: It was only after this near catastrophe that we see the convoy’s front truck is on fire, and, worse, the soldiers have pulled a casualty to the side of the mountain, as others frantically begin to work on him.

GWEN IFILL: In 2011, in Libya, Foley was held for 45 days by forces loyal to former dictator Moammar Gadhafi. Following his release, he spoke about that kidnapping on the NewsHour.

JAMES FOLEY: I never worried that I would be in captivity for, let’s say, a year. I was concerned. I was really concerned to tell my mom that I was OK. And when we hit that two-week mark, I knew, OK, this is going to be a long time. They’re telling us two to three days, but they’re just playing mind games with us.

GWEN IFILL: It was unclear who initially abducted Foley in Syria or when he fell into the hands of Islamic State forces. But his death marked the first time they have killed an American citizen in the Syrian conflict.

JOHN FOLEY, Father of James Foley: It haunts me that he — how much pain he was in and how — how cruel this — this method of execution is.

GWEN IFILL: Still shaken, Foley’s parents emerge from their home in Rochester, New Hampshire, today to remember their son.

DIANE FOLEY, Mother of James Foley: Jim had — kind of had nine lives. I mean, he came out of Libya. And I guess we just never gave up hope either. We just kept thinking that somehow we’re getting closer, we know he’s alive. We — you know, we just ran out of time. He ran out of time.

GWEN IFILL: Foley was 40 years old. The same video also showed another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, who has written for “TIME” magazine. The militants threatened he will be killed next if U.S. airstrikes in Iraq continue.

The Committee to Protect Journalists estimates at least 20 other news professionals are being held in Syria.

DAVID CAMERON, Prime Minister, United Kingdom: It is an act of murder, and murder without any justification.

GWEN IFILL: Meanwhile, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced a manhunt for the hooded militant with a British accent who appeared in the beheading video.