“The U.S. Intelligence Community has analyzed the recently released video showing U.S. citizens James Foley and Steven Sotloff," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said in a statement. "We have reached the judgment that this video is authentic. We will continue to provide updates as they are available.”
Hayden’s statement was released approximately an hour before President Obama was scheduled to address the killing in remarks from his vacation on Martha's Vineyard.
On Tuesday, Hayden said that if the video was determined to be genuine, the U.S. stood "appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist."
"We express our deepest condolences to his family and friends,” Hayden said.
The video shows Foley in a desert being forced to denounce U.S. airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. It then shows the aftermath of his beheading.
"I call on my friends, family and loved ones, to rise up against my real killers, the U.S. government," Foley says.
"For what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality. My message to my beloved parents, save me some dignity and don't accept any meager compensation for my death from the same people who effectively hit the last nail in my coffin with their recent aerial campaign in Iraq," he continued.
The video goes on to show another American journalist, Steven Joel Sotloff, and threatens his execution if the U.S. does not stop its bombing campaign.
"The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision," a masked ISIS operative says.
The president ordered airstrikes in Iraq earlier this month, citing ISIS attempts to execute minority Iraqis living in the country's Kurdish regions and concerns over American personnel in Erbil and Baghdad. Over the weekend, the White House said it was expanding that mission to include other ISIS targets, and on Monday the president announced that Iraqi and Kurdish forces had retaken the Mosul Dam — a crucial infrastructure target — with the aid of U.S. airstrikes.
The president was briefed on the video Tuesday night by his deputy national security adviser Ben Rhodes, according to White House spokesman Eric Schultz.
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) suggested Wednesday that Obama should cut his vacation short to address the execution, noting that British Prime Minister David Cameron had opted to do so. The masked man appearing in the video appeared to have a British accent, and Western officials have expressed concerns that ISIS is recruiting followers from Europe and the United States.
"The optics of being on vacation and not coming away from that vacation, I just think are bad," Rogers said on Fox News. "That is why I think [Cameron] is going back. He is going to show he is the prime minister and he is taking this matter seriously, and he is on the job making the decisions that you need to make to keep Britain safe."