Obama: ISIL 'Has No Place in the 21st Century'

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

"Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley," President Obama said at a press conference Wednesday in Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts.

Obama proceeded to condemn the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the militants responsible for American journalist James Foley's death, in the harshest possible terms.

"ISIL speaks for no religion," Obama said, using a different name for the group. "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. ISIL has no ideology. Their ideology is bankrupt."

The president spoke of ISIS militants "rampaging" through Iraq, "killing innocent, unarmed civilians," kidnapping women and children, subjecting them to "torture and rape and slavery."

Video footage of an ISIS militant beheading Foley was released Tuesday afternoon, and judged to be authentic by the National Security Council on Wednesday morning. Foley, 40, was abducted in Syria in late 2012 and was not heard from during his captivity. Intelligence officials in England are now trying to determine whether the militant in the video was British, based on his accent. British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said that his government is "very concerned by the apparent fact that the murderer in question is British" and said officials are "urgently investigating."

In the video, an ISIS militant threatened the life of another American captive, journalist Steven Sotloff. Sotloff, a freelance reporter, was captured near the Syria-Turkey border last year.

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

Foley's parents spoke with Obama by phone, they said Wednesday. His mother Diane released a statement about her son on Facebook on Tuesday night. "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," she said. "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."

Obama said he told Foley's parents that "we are all heart broken at their loss, and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did."

The U.S. has been hitting ISIS targets in Iraq with airstrikes for nearly two weeks, an operation that began with a humanitarian mission to help Iraqi Yazidis who were under siege by the militant group in northern Iraq. The military ran 23 air strikes on ISIS targets over the weekend, and American planes and drones have conducted close to a dozen strikes in Iraq since Tuesday, officials told the AP Wednesday morning. On Monday, U.S. strikes helped to free the Mosul Dam from ISIS control, Obama told reporters then.

The U.S. conducted 14 strikes on Wednesday, bringing the total to 84.

Obama did not address specific actions that U.S. forces may take in Iraq moving forward. His remarks, however, suggested that the U.S. will continue fighting against ISIS. "The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people," he said. "We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what's necessary to see that justice is done."

In a statement Wednesday afternoon, Secretary of State John Kerry called Foley "brave and bold." 

"There is evil in this world, and we all have come face to face with it once again," Kerry said of ISIS. "Ugly, savage, inexplicable, nihilistic, and valueless evil."

The secretary was more direct in his policy promise about future U.S. action against the militant group. "Make no mistake: We will continue to confront ISIL wherever it tries to spread its despicable hatred," Kerry said. "ISIL and the wickedness it represents must be destroyed, and those responsible for this heinous, vicious atrocity will be held accountable."

Here, a collection of some of Foley's work.

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