The ISIS jihadist who was shown on video beheading American journalist James Foley is thought to be the leader of a crew of British fighters that have foreign hostages under their custody in Syria, according to sources of the Guardian.
The English-speaking militant, currently the target of an international manhunt for his gruesome killing of Foley, is believed to be holding the hostages in Raqqa, a major stronghold of the ISIS rebels.
The militant calls himself John and is believed to be from London. He is also said to be the main negotiator for the rebels for talks that were held earlier in the year for the release of 11 ISIS hostages. The hostages were handed over to Turkish officials after the militant group's demands were given.
ISIS had said that it killed Foley because it wanted to take revenge on the intervention of the United States in Iraq. President Barack Obama gave the authorization on Aug. 8 for the U.S. military to launch airstrikes into Iraq as an attempt to help Iraqi forces in their battle against ISIS.
Security companies in both the United States and the United Kingdom are currently analyzing the killing footage of Foley. Included in the analysis are experts in forensics phonetics, who are trying to figure out the true identity of John through his accent.
According to King's College of London International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation director Peter Neumann, an English-speaking rebel was deliberately chosen to be the subject of the video to have the maximum impact on countries in the west.
"This is significant because it signifies a turn towards threatening the west. They are saying we're going to come after you if you bomb us," Neumann said.
Neumann added that while the group has been performing "horrific acts" such as torture and beheadings for over a year, the killing of Foley is the first instance that the victim was from the west.
The parents of the slain journalist, John and Diane Foley expressed their sentiments of being "so proud" of him.
"He was a courageous fearless journalist," said Foley's mother. "He always hoped that he would come home."
She added that Foley "would never want us to hate or be bitter."
President Obama himself called the Foleys to express his sincere condolences over the loss of their son, after the President showed signs of anger and expressed his disdain over the incident.
"No just God would stand for what they did yesterday and what they do every single day," Obama said. He then compared ISIS to a "cancer" that should be stopped.
Obama, however, did not say whether there will be any changes in the strategy or policy of the United States in dealing with ISIS.
However, United States Secretary of State John Kerry later said in a tweet that ISIS "must be destroyed/will be crushed," echoing Obama's sentiments.