In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded American journalist James Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say.
The White House must now weigh the risks of adopting an aggressive policy to destroy the Islamic State against resisting any action that could result in the death of another American.
It will also confront the potentially necessary step of pursuing the Islamic State in Syria, where President Barack Obama has resisted launching airstrikes or deploying significant American firepower.
Obama was expected to make a statement Wednesday about Foley's killing.
U.S. officials confirmed a grisly video released Tuesday showing Islamic State militants beheading Foley. Separately, Foley's family confirmed his death in a statement posted on a Facebook page that was created to rally support for his release, saying they "have never been prouder of him."