Foley beheaded by 'British jihadi'
Academic who studies radicalisation says British Muslims who have joined Islamic State want to be 'at the forefront of the conflict'.PT2M26S http://www.canberratimes.com.au/action/externalEmbeddedPlayer?id=d-3e1ev 620 349 August 21, 2014
The race is on to identify the jihadist militant with the British accent who beheaded US journalist James Foley.
British Prime Minister David Cameron, who broke off his holiday in response to the crisis, described the death as "murder without justification" and admitted it was "likely" a British jihadist was responsible.
Killed:The murder of James Foley was called a "barbaric and brutal act" by British Prime Minister David Cameron. Photo: AP
"Let me condemn the barbaric and brutal act that has taken place and let's be clear what this act is – it is an act of murder, and murder without any justification," Mr Cameron said.
At the same time, an international manhunt has begun to find the man responsible for the death of Foley, which was filmed and distributed through social media as a "warning" to the US to stop its military involvement in Iraq.
The US recently began a bombing campaign in the north of Iraq to help turn back an advance of Islamic State fighters who had made advances against Kurdish-controlled areas and threatened to massacre religious minorities.
Believed to be British: MI5, Scotland Yard and the FBI are all labouring to identify the killer. Photo: Supplied
Islamic State fighters have emerged from the forces fighting against embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in that nation's long-running civil war.
As of Wednesday night, British time, MI5, Scotland Yard and the FBI were all labouring to identify the killer.
The Guardian reported that he is believed to be the leader of a group of British-born fighters that had previously held hostages for the Islamic State in Syria.
The militant, who called himself "John", is thought to have come from London and to have functioned as an negotiator in talks between the rebels and Turkey over the fate of 11 hostages earlier this year.
A former hostage of his told The Guardian that the man was a "ringleader" of three British jihadists who were dubbed "The Beatles" by former hostages because of their shared nationality.
"From what we have seen, it looks increasingly likely that it is a British citizen," said Mr Cameron after viewing the video distributed by the group, which has seized control of a swathe of land overlapping Iraq and Syria.
"This is deeply shocking. But we know that far too many British citizens have travelled to Iraq and travelled to Syria to take part in extremism and violence.
"And what we must do is redouble all our efforts to stop people from going."
Mr Cameron said Britain would take away the passports of those thinking about travel and "arrest and prosecute" British-born militants who take part in "extremism and violence".
About 500 British-born jihadists are thought to have left the country to fight with the Islamic State, The Guardian reported.
The murder of the journalist has sparked outrage around the world, including from US President Barack Obama, who lambasted the group's ideology, and the United Nation's Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, who condemned "in the strongest terms the horrific murder" of the journalist.
Mr Ban called it "an abominable crime that underscores the campaign of terror the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) continues to wage against the people of Iraq and Syria".
"The perpetrators of this and other such horrific crimes must be brought to justice," he said in a statement.
On Thursday, Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott warned that such beheadings could happen in Western countries.
"As for the apparent truth that the murderer was a British citizen, it just goes to show that while these events are taking place far from our shores, they can have ramifications right around the world," he told reporters in Melbourne.
"It just goes to show that this is not just something that happens elsewhere, it could happen in countries like Australia if we relax our vigilance against terrorism and potential terrorism here on our shores."
The issue of British, or Australian citizens, travelling to fight as Islamic militants will remain a difficult one for governments in coming years, experts say.
"States have very limited capacity to track the movement of their citizens in war zones," said La Trobe University lecturer on international relations Michael O'Keefe.
"[Governments] can try and stop them from going and can punish them on their return as a deterrent. But, the attraction for Australian jihadists is nominally religious and their obligations of citizenship seem secondary considerations."
Dr O'Keefe said that when citizens become travelling Jihadists "they are responding to a different form of identity and loyalty".
"They don't want to be associated with Australia. Therefore the government's capacity to surveil or track them is extremely compromised," he said.
– with The Telegraph, London