Missing US photojournalist James Foley beheaded by ISIS - WNEM TV 5

Missing US photojournalist James Foley beheaded by ISIS

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James Foley reporting in Aleppo, Syria – 07/12. (Source: Nicole Tung/FreeJamesFoley.org) James Foley reporting in Aleppo, Syria – 07/12. (Source: Nicole Tung/FreeJamesFoley.org)

(RNN) – The mother of an abducted U.S. photojournalist says a gruesome video released by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL or ISIS, on Tuesday shows her son being beheaded.

The video alleges that ISIS beheaded James Wright Foley, 40, in a violent and graphic YouTube video called "A Message to #America (from the #IslamicState)." The original video has been removed from YouTube

Foley had been held captive for 635 days. 

In a statement posted to the Free James Foley Facebook page, James's mother, Diane Foley, saying:

We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.

We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.

Despite the video not being publicly authenticated, two U.S. officials confirmed Foley's death by beheading to the Associated Press. One official also told the AP that President Obama would make a statement on Foley's beheading on Wednesday. 

AP also reports that several officials said that the Islamic State militants had "threatened to kill Foley to avenge the crushing airstrikes over the last two weeks against militants advancing on Mount Sinjar, the Mosul dam and the Kurdish capital of Ibril."

The video begins with a message to the U.S. government, and blames Foley's eventual beheading on President Barack Obama's ordered airstrikes in the region. The video also shows video of those airstrikes in what ISIS labels has "American aggression against the Islamic State."

"Obama authorizes military operations against the Islamic State effectively placing America upon a slippery slope toward a new war front against Muslims," the video says. 

Foley reads a letter in the video, possibly written by his captors, that says "the real killer is America."

The video also shows another abducted journalist. Time magazine contributor Steven Sotloff went missing in 2013 after being kidnapped near the Syria-Turkey border. In the video, the ISIS member says that further U.S. military action could result in his death.

Foley was last seen in northwest Syria where he was captured on Nov. 22, 2012, when the car he was traveling was stopped by militants in a Sunni rebel battle zone. Foley's family had not heard from him during the time he was held captive by ISIS. 

During the time of his capture, he was freelancing for the U.S.-based online newspaper GlobalPost and Agence France-Presse, and had been covering news in the Middle East and North Africa for five years.

The video shows Foley on his knees in an orange jumpsuit and identifies him just before he is shown to be beheaded. 

In a statement, GlobalPost CEO and co-founder Philip Balboni said: "On behalf of John and Diane Foley, and also GlobalPost, we deeply appreciate all of the messages of sympathy and support that have poured in since the news of Jim's possible execution first broke. We have been informed that the FBI is in the process of evaluating the video posted by the Islamic State to determine if it is authentic. We ask for your prayers for Jim and his family."

During previous attempts to locate him, the Columbia Journalism Review said that Foley may have been held in a Syrian government-run detention center in Damascus.

Foley had been previously arrested and later released in Libya in 2011. He spoke with the Boston Globe about his arrest in May 2011. 

In a brief statement on Twitter, the National Security Council tweeted: "We have seen a video that purports to be the murder of a US citizen by ISIL. Working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity." 

U.S. Senator, Kelly Ayotte, R-NH, had worked closely with the Foley family to work on the New Hampshire native's return home.

"Our hearts are broken for the Foley family. James was an innocent civilian who was bravely performing his job as a journalist. This barbaric and heinous act shocks the conscience and highlights the truly evil nature of the terrorists we confront, who must be defeated. My thoughts and prayers are with James Foley's family at this extremely difficult time," Ayotte said in a statement on Facebook

Foley's death is not the first in the Middle East since 2002. Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and later murdered in January 202; his death was posted on a video online by al-Qaeda.

Other beheadings of journalists include Jack Hensley, Eugene Armstrong and Nicholas Berg. All were murdered by al-Qaeda during the Iraq War, according to CNN.

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