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Attorney General Eric HolderEric Himpton HolderEnd impeachment's government shutdown Parties to wage census battle with outside groups Welcome to third-world democracy and impeachment MORE on Thursday announced that the Department of Justice has "an open criminal investigation" into the brutal killing of photojournalist James Foley by Islamic militants.

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"Those who would perpetrate such acts need to understand something," Holder said in Washington.

"This Justice Department, this Department of Defense, this nation — we have long memories and our reach is very wide," he said. "We will not forget what happened and people will be held accountable, one way or the other."

A video posted online Tuesday showed a militant with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) beheading Foley, a freelance journalist who went missing in Syria in November, 2012.

Speaking in Denver on Wednesday, FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyNYT: Justice investigating alleged Comey leak of years-old classified info Bernie-Hillary echoes seen in Biden-Sanders primary fight Rosenstein on his time in Trump administration: 'We got all the big issues right' MORE said his agency has been investigating Foley's kidnapping for two years.

Comey, who has been FBI director for nearly a year, said of ISIS the "savages have turned it into a homicide investigation."

"These are people that make ordinary terrorists look civilized," Comey added.

Administration officials note the investigation is broad.

"We have intelligence resources, we have diplomatic resources, we have military resources; we will spare no effort to hold accountable those people responsible for his death," State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said Wednesday.