James Foley, a freelance war correspondent from New Hampshire, was killed at the hands of the Islamic State militant group in a graphic video.
The militants distributed a video that said the apparent beheading was retaliation for recent U.S. air strikes in Iraq, U.S. officials said late Tuesday.
The officials told the AP that they believe it is Foley in the video, bringing to a tragic end a saga that began when Foley was kidnapped in Syria in 2012.
It is unclear when the video was made or where it was taken. In the video, a man who appears to be Foley is seen kneeling in a barren landscape.
Behind Foley, who speaks in a monotone even under duress, stands a masked member of the Islamic State group, clad in black and wielding a knife.
In the propaganda video, Foley says that his death comes in retaliation for the recent air strikes against Islamic militants who had occupied parts of Iraq.
Foley also directly addresses his brother, John, a member of the Air Force, and urges him to consider the ramifications of the bombing campaign.
The militant fighter standing over him then says the air strikes are denying the rights of Iraqi Muslims of all walks of life to live under an Islamic caliphate.
The militant says the life of another U.S. journalist, Steven Sotloff, may be next.
Sotloff, who has covered the region for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, among other outlets, was last seen reporting in Aleppo, Syria, last year.
A man identified as Sotloff appears at the end of the video. The militant says his fate would depend on what President Barack Obama does next.
Both prisoners are wearing orange shirts and pants, similar to orange jumpsuits worn by detainees at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
In January 2013, Foley’s family in New Hampshire spoke publicly of his abduction in Syria, which they said occurred on Thanksgiving Day in 2012.
The journalist was traveling toward the Turkish border when he was intercepted by an unmarked vehicle, according to a story published after his abduction.
“We have never been prouder of our son Jim,” his mother, Diane, said in a message on a Facebook page his supporters had set up.
“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 in any other part of the world.”
Earlier in the evening, Caitlin Hayden, a spokeswoman for the National Security Council, said in a prepared statement that if the video is genuine:
“We are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends.”