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ISIS beheads American photojournalist who was kidnapped 2 years ago in Syria

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By USA Today
Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, 8:06 p.m.

A gruesome video released Tuesday appears to show an Islamist fighter beheading an American freelance photographer who was kidnapped in Syria nearly two years ago.

The video, posted by the media arm of the Islamic State in Syria and titled “A Message to America,” says James Wright Foley was executed “in Iraq” as a result of President Obama's decision to bomb Islamic State fighters battling Kurdish forces north of Baghdad.

The video, in Arabic with English narration, concludes with another missing U.S. journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, of Miami, and tells Obama his life “depends on your next decision.”

The video's authenticity has not been verified independently. But a federal law enforcement official, who is not authorized to speak publicly, said U.S. investigators were still examining the video, but “nothing appears to contradict” that the victim is Foley.

Foley, who worked for several news outlets, including GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse, was kidnapped Nov. 22, 2012, in Syria. He is one of an estimated 30 journalists missing in Syria's 32-month-old civil war.

The four-minute, 40-second video shows a black-clad and masked militant standing next to Foley, who is kneeling in the desert dressed in an orange prison jumpsuit with his hands behind his back. The militant then begins to cut Foley's throat, and the screen fades to black amid a gurgling sound.

The image fades in a few seconds later and shows the bloody head resting on the man's back, with his hands in metal cuffs. The knife lies in the sand beside a pool of blood.

In a statement on its Facebook page, Foley's family said, “We know that many of you are looking for confirmation or answers. Please be patient until we all have more information, and keep the Foleys in your thoughts and prayers.”

Sotloff is believed to have been freelancing for Time in Egypt when he was abducted. He last tweeted on Aug. 3, 2013, with a comment about Miami Heat basketball player Greg Oden. A few days earlier in a tweet, he noted that he had been pepper-sprayed at a protest in Antakya, Turkey.

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