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I.S. militants called biggest threat to U.S.

Aug 22, 2014, 7:09 AM EDT
Islamic State (IS) militants.
AFP/Getty Images

Islamic State militants are the most dangerous threat the US has faced in recent years, Washington has warned. The BBC writes:

Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said U.S. air strikes had helped to break the Islamist advance in Iraq, but the militants could be expected to regroup.

America's top general Martin Dempsey stressed that IS could not be defeated without attacking their base in Syria. The warnings come after IS posted a video showing the beheading of U.S. journalist James Foley.

The US has now begun a formal criminal investigation into Mr Foley's death, with US Attorney General Eric Holder warning that the country has a "long memory".

It has emerged that a special US military mission tried but failed earlier this summer to rescue Mr Foley and other US hostages held in Syria. The militants had also reportedly wanted a $132m (£80m) ransom for his release.

A British Muslim leader called for action on Thursday to tackle a jihadi sub-culture after an Islamic State video showed a suspected Briton beheading U.S. journalist James Foley, held hostage in Syria. Reuters reports:

In Washington, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said the threat from Islamic State was "beyond anything we've seen" and the U.S. Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into the death of Foley on the video, which featured a masked man speaking English with a British accent.

As Western officials tried to identify the man, the Muslim Council of Britain denounced Foley's "abhorrent murder" and one of its advisers urged anyone who knows the killer's identity to contact the police. Horror at the video spanned from the West to Baghdad, where Iraqis asked why the United States and its allies had not cracked down on Islamic State fighters long before they captured large areas of Syria and Iraq.

Foley, 40, was beheaded by an Islamic State militant in the video that surfaced on the Internet on Tuesday, and officials in Washington revealed that U.S. special forces had tried unsuccessfully to rescue him along with other American hostages earlier this summer.

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