The family and friends of missing journalist James Foley were left reeling by a video posted last night showing his beheading.

James Foley in 2012 before he was kidnapped

James Foley in 2012 before he was kidnapped

US citizen, James Foley, known as Jim, had been missing for 630 days after he was kidnapped in Syria. It is thought that he hasĀ been beheaded by Islamist fanatics as revenge for US air strikes in Iraq. 40 year-old Foley is seen kneeling down in an orange jumpsuit, his hands behind his back. An IS militant, dressed in black and holding a knife in his left hand, holds Foley’s mouth and draws the knife across his throat, killing him. James Foley’s head is then seen placed on the back of his dead body.

Mr Foley’s executioner is a member of the terror group Islamic State (IS); speaking with an English accent, he warned President Obama that Mr Foley’s murder would not be IS’s last: “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.” The killer went on to show a picture of Steven Sotloff, the Time Magazine journalist, who is rumoured to have been missing since last Summer, but whose kidnapping has never been confirmed.

Prime Minster David Cameron has cut his holiday in Cornwall short to discuss the appalling video with cabinet members and advisers. Experts are studying the video to see if the murdered can be identified.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond described the horrific footage as: “an appalling example of the brutality of this organisation.” He then warned that IS is a “direct threat to the UK’s national security” due to the high number of British people who have joined “extremist organisations” in Iraq and Syria. He went on: “Many of these people may seek at some point to return to the UK and they would then pose a direct threat to our domestic security.”

Diane Foley, the mother of the beheaded photojournalist, issued a statement overnight begging extremist kidnappers to release their hostages and saying how proud she was of her son:

“We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.

“We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.

“We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.”