US President Barack Obama said the country “strongly condemns the barbaric murder” of UK citizen David Haines at the hands of the extremist group calling itself the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL).
“The United States strongly condemns the barbaric murder of UK citizen David Haines by the terrorist group ISIL,” Obama said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the family of Mr. Haines and to the people of the United Kingdom. The United States stands shoulder to shoulder tonight with our close friend and ally in grief and resolve.”
ISIS released a video late Saturday evening claiming to show the beheading of Haines, the third Westerner the group has brutally murdered over the past month. The other two executions, of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, led Obama to expand a military campaign against the group.
Obama promised the US, UK, and a budding coalition of nations would work to “degrade and destroy” the extremist group.
“We will work with the United Kingdom and a broad coalition of nations from the region and around the world to bring the perpetrators of this outrageous act to justice, and to degrade and destroy this threat to the people of our countries, the region and the world,” he said.
In a primetime speech from the White House on Wednesday night, Obama laid out an expanded, four-pronged strategy to “degrade and destroy” the group in a sustained counterterrorism operation he said would take multiple years. It will include an expansion of airstrikes against ISIS targets in Syria.
Haines’ beheading appeared to come at the hands of the militant known as “Jihadi John,” who speaks English in a British accent and was featured in the two previous execution videos. Haines had been working in Syria for the French aid humanitarian aid agency ACTED when he was kidnapped after only three days in Syria.
“This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL wherever they exist using our air power and our support for partner forces on the ground,” he said.
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