WASHINGTON: US President Barack Obama yesterday demanded that the world take action against the “cancer” of jihadist extremism in Iraq, after militants murdered an American reporter.
As US jets continued to strike jihadist targets despite a threat to kill a second reporter, Obama said: “When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.”
Shortly after he spoke, the State Department asked for 300 more US troops to protect US facilities in Iraq.
Obama was speaking after the so-called “Islamic State”, which has seized much of eastern Syria and northern Iraq, released a video showing a masked militant beheading US reporter James Foley.
The black-clad man said the 40-year-old freelance journalist, kidnapped in northern Syria in November 2012, had been killed to avenge US air strikes against his movement.
He paraded a second US reporter, Steven Sotloff, before the camera and said he too would die unless Obama changes course. Sotloff went missing in northern Syria in July 2013.
The Pentagon confirmed that air strikes would continue — but he paid tribute to Foley and said the Islamic State must be defeated. “Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers,” he said, branding the militants genocidal murderers who target civilians and subject women and children to “torture and rape and slavery”.
“We will be vigilant and we will be relentless... From governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so it does not spread.”
US intelligence believes the video is genuine, and the British government held a crisis meeting to launch an investigation because Foley’s executioner spoke English with a London accent.
The US-based Committee to Protect Journalists estimates that about 20 journalists are currently missing in Syria. Many of them are believed to be held by Islamic State. The UN and Europe’s top powers condemned the killing. France said it wanted the permanent members of the UN Security Council and regional countries, including Arab states and Iran, to coordinate action against Islamic State.
Germany and Italy said they were ready to send arms to bolster the military capabilities of Iraqi Kurds fighting Islamic State in northern Iraq.