The vicious Islamic State group now is vowing to broaden its war campaign to include killing Americans wherever and whenever it can.
Tuesday’s horrific videotaped beheading of American photojournalist James Foley was packaged with a new Islamic State posting on social media threatening the United States: “We will drown all of you in blood.”
A visibly angered President Obama gave a stern reply Wednesday afternoon, saying in a televised address that the U.S. and its allies will work together to “extract this cancer” that is the Islamic State.
“ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents,” Mr. Obama said. “No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings.”
Just hours after Mr. Obama spoke, the White House revealed that the president had authorized a secret military mission this summer to a site in Syria in a bid to free Mr. Foley and other Americans held by the terrorist group, but the hostages were not there.
“The U.S. government had what we believed was sufficient intelligence, and when the opportunity presented itself, the president authorized the Department of Defense to move aggressively to recover our citizens,” said Lisa Monaco, assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. “Unfortunately, that mission was not successful because the hostages were not present.”
The White House did not reveal exactly when or where in Syria the mission took place. Citing administration sources, The Associated Press reported that a “number of militants” were killed in the operation and one American sustained a minor injury.
The president also offered his condolences via telephone to Mr. Foley’s parents, who also praised their son for his life’s work.
Speaking to reporters in front of their New Hampshire home, John and Diane Foley noted his dedication in documenting Syria’s conflict and the plight of ordinary Syrians. “We believe he was a martyr for freedom,” John Foley said.
The White House said earlier this month that the Islamic State is not a threat to Americans — a position deemed “utter hogwash” by Robert Spencer, director of Jihad Watch, which monitors Islamic extremism.
“The White House says that the U.S. is not at war with the Islamic State,” Mr. Spencer said. “But the Islamic State certainly is at war with the U.S.”
A U.S. intelligence official said Thursday, “I would tell you ISIL has had a longstanding, overt interest in killing Americans.”