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Obama hails Foley, vows to be ‘vigilant’ and ‘relentless’ in pursuing terrorists

By Lesley Clark and Nancy Yousssef
McClatchy Washington Bureau
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/20/13/17/phThG.Em.138.jpg|316
    NICHOLAS KAMM - AFP/Getty Images
    US President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press on the death of American journalist James Foley at Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts August 20, 2014. The United States has carried out more air strikes in Iraq, a senior US defense official said, as Islamic militants threaten to execute a second US journalist.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/08/19/19/36/Y8IkC.Em.138.jpg|316
    Nicole Tung - AP
    Photojournalist James Foley was working in Syria for the news Web site Global­Post when he disappeared in November 2012.

President Barack Obama on Wednesday decried the slaying of U.S journalist James Foley by the Islamic State, saying the entire world was “appalled” as he vowed to protect Americans by whatever means necessary.

Obama spoke as Pentagon officials said that U.S. aircraft conducted a dozen strikes in Iraq against Islamic State targets, after the extremist group posted a video of Foley’s beheading, and warned that a second American journalist, who it identified as Steven Joel Sotloff, would be killed if the strikes continued. There was no immediate word as to whether or not the group had made good on its threat.

Speaking from vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Obama said he had spoken to Foley’s family, telling them “we are all heartbroken at their loss.”

“Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocked the conscience of the entire world,” Obama said.

His remarks came soon after U.S. intelligence officials said they had confirmed the authenticity of a video showing the beheading of Foley, 40, a freelance photojournalist from Rochester, N.H.

Foley’s life, Obama said, “stands in stark contrast to his killers,” whom he said have “rampaged across cities and villages, killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence.”

In the video, the Islamic State threatened to execute a second U.S. captive if Obama doesn’t halt U.S. strikes on its fighters, but Obama pledged to combat the group.

“We will be vigilant and we will be relentless,” he said. “When people harm Americans, anywhere, we do what's necessary to see that justice is done.”

He called on Iraq and its neighbors to continue fighting ISIL, saying Iraqis “must continue coming together to expel these terrorists from their communities.

“From governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it does not spread,” he said. “There has to be a clear rejection of these kind of nihilistic ideologies.

“One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century,” Obama said.

He did not mention the second U.S. captive, believed to be Sotloff, a freelance journalist from Miami, Fla., but said the U.S. will “keep in our prayers those other Americans who are separated from their families.

“We will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for,” Obama said.

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