By Mario Trujillo - 08/20/14 08:06 AM EDT
Lawmakers mourned the death of freelance journalist James Foley after video purporting to show his beheading at the hands of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) surfaced Tuesday.
They said the brutal video highlights the threat posed by the terrorist group, which has taken over large areas in Iraq and Syria.
The New Hampshire-based journalist went missing in Syria in November 2012. The video shows Foley being forced to make a statement calling on the United States to stop its air campaign in Iraq before his murder.
"This barbaric and heinous act shocks the conscience and highlights the truly evil nature of the terrorists we confront, who must be defeated," Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said in a statement. "My thoughts and prayers are with James Foley's family at this extremely difficult time."
Rep. Carol Shea-Porter (D-N.H.) said she knew the journalist as a child and that her prayers are with the family.
"I remember Jim as a child and choose to remember his goodness, his life, and family," she tweeted Tuesday night.
Other lawmakers saw the video as the latest evidence that President Obama needs to step up the United States’s support to Iraqis fighting ISIS in the country.
Earlier this month, Obama authorized the United States to begin targeted airstrikes against ISIS to protect minority populations in the country and protect U.S. personnel.
"If we do not do more to assist our Iraqi partners and those moderate Syrians who are fighting ISIL and directly target ISIL’s leadership and networks in Iraq and Syria, I fear that James Foley will not be the only American to die at their hands,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in a statement.
The video released Tuesday night also threatens another captured American journalist if the United States does not stop the air campaign.
"ISIS beheading of US journalist requires heavy sustained action by US — and an overall strategy," Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) wrote on Twitter.
National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said if the video is real, the White House is "appalled by the brutal murder." In a Facebook message, Foley's mother, Diane Foley, said she had never been prouder of her son.
"He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people," she wrote. "We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages."