Obama Says U.S. Will Continue ISIL Airstrikes Despite Journalist's Execution

President Obama said Wednesday afternoon that the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley will not deter US operations in Iraq against the Islamist State.

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During a press conference President Obama condemned the actions of ISIL and called on continued efforts to "confront this awful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and civility." The president promised that the United States would “do what’s necessary to see that justice is done,” and that there's no place for ISIL in the 21st century.

Update, 2:05 pm: Shortly after the president's remarks, the National Security Council announced more military strikes against ISIL. "U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in support of Iraqi security force operations, using fighter, remotely piloted and attack aircraft to conduct 14 airstrikes in the vicinity of the Mosul Dam," read the press release. The Associated Press also reported that the military is considering plans to send additional troops to Iraq.

Original Post: "The entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley," he said. "ISIL speaks for no religion. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, or what they do every day. No faith teaches people to murder innocents," Obama said.

Obama made his comments from Martha's Vineyard, where he has been on vacation for the last several days.

The address came just moments after the National Security Council confirmed the authenticity of the video, which shows ISIL militants executing Foley.

Foley in Syria, 2012. (Manu Brabo via FreeJamesFoley.org)

In the video the militants threaten the lives of other Americans if the U.S. continues its airstrikes on the group, in response to a series of successful strikes on the group. Over the weekend Kurdish forces regained control of the country's largest dam with the help of U.S. airstrikes. As The Wall Street Journal notes, the success of those attacks has led some to call for further strikes in the region to drive back ISIL. Tuesday's video was released one day after the president praised the airstrikes in Iraq during a press conference.

Earlier today the president also called Foley's parents. In the last few days the president has been criticized for continuing his vacation in the wake of protests in Ferguson, Missouri and various international events. UK Prime Minister David Cameron returned early from his vacation after the video was released.

Here are the president's full remarks:

Good afternoon, everybody. Today, the entire world is appalled by the brutal murder of Jim Foley by the terrorist group, ISIL. Jim was a journalist, a son, a brother, and a friend. He reported from difficult and dangerous places, bearing witness to the lives of people a world away.

He was taken hostage nearly two years ago in Syria, and he was courageously reporting at the time on the conflict there. Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocked the conscience of the entire world. He was 40 years old. One of five siblings, the son of a mom and dad who worked tirelessly for his release.

Earlier today, I spoke to the Foleys and told them that we are all heartbroken at their loss, and join them in honoring Jim and all that he did.

Now, Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast to his killers. Let’s be clear about ISIL. They have rampaged across cities and villages, killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims, both Sunni and Shia, by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can, for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declare their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people.

So ISIL speaks for no religion. 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 of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt. They may claim, out of expediency, that they are at war with the United States or the West, but the fact is, they terrorize their neighbors and offer them nothing but an endless slavery to their empty vision and the collapse of any definition of civilized behavior.

And people like this ultimately fail. They fail because the future is won by those who build and not destroy, and the world is shaped by people like Jim Foley and the overwhelming majority of humanity who are appalled by those who killed him.

The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. 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.

And we act against ISIL standing alongside others. The people of Iraq who, with our support, are taking the fight to ISIL, must continue coming together to expel these terrorists from their communities. The people of Syria, whose story Jim Foley told, do not deserve to live under the shadow of a tyrant or terrorists. They have our support in their pursuit of a future rooted in dignity.

From governments and peoples across the Middle East, there has to be a common effort to extract this cancer so that it does not spread. There has to be a clear rejection of these kind of nihilistic ideologies.

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

Friends and allies around the world, we share a common security and a common set of values that are rooted in the opposite of what we saw yesterday, and we will continue to confront this hateful terrorism and replace it with a sense of hope and civility.

That's what Jim Foley stood for, a man who lived his work, who courageously told the stories of his fellow human beings and who was liked and loved by friends and family.

Today, the American people will all say a prayer for those who loved Jim. All of us feel the ache of his absence. All of us mourn his loss.

We keep in our prayers those other Americans who are separated from their families. We will do everything that we can to protect our people and the timeless values that we stand for.

May God bless and keep Jim's memory and may God bless the United States of America.

Throughout the day officials released statements on Foley's death. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called Foley's murder "an abominable crime" in the following statement:

The Secretary-General condemns in the strongest terms the horrific murder of journalist James Foley, 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. He extends his deepest condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of Mr. Foley. The perpetrators of this and other such horrific crimes must be brought to justice.

Secretary John Kerry, in a State Department release, said the U.S. will "continue to confront ISIL wherever it tries to spread its despicable hatred":

James Foley went to the darkest of places to shine the light of truth. Nothing could stop him from sharing with the world the reality of what was happening on the front lines in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the struggle against a brutal dictator in Libya, and he was just as determined to do the same from Syria. He was brave and bold, and no masked coward can ever steal the legacy of this courageous American who lived out the meaning of the word journalism.
I was a Senator when James was first held in Libya, and we were first introduced to the Foley family. His family was as determined in working towards his release as James had been daring in covering those war zones himself. The sheer unfairness and unlikely odds that this young journalist would again find himself in captivity in another conflict was almost unimaginable. It is impossible to express how much we all wanted this latest horror to end with his family reunited, as it had been the first time.  
Teresa and I, along with members of my family who got to know James’ mother Diane and his brother, are heartbroken for all of the Foleys. There are no words of condolence that can adequately convey our sorrow, our sympathy, or our anger for what has happened.
There is evil in this world, and we all have come face to face with it once again. Ugly, savage, inexplicable, nihilistic, and valueless evil.  ISIL is the face of that evil, a threat to people who want to live in peace, and an ugly insult to the peaceful religion they violate every day with their barbarity.  
We grieve for James Foley. We mourn for his family and his loved ones. We honor the courage and pray for the safety of all those who risk their lives to discover the truth where it is needed most. And make no mistake: we will continue to confront ISIL wherever it tries to spread its despicable hatred. The world must know that the United States of America will never back down in the face of such evil. ISIL and the wickedness it represents must be destroyed, and those responsible for this heinous, vicious atrocity will be held accountable.

This post has been updated.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.