LONDON - A massive effort has been launched to identify the jihadist, believed to be British, who appeared in video footage showing the beheading of American journalist James Foley even as it has been learnt that his Islamic captors demanded $132 million ransom for his release.
The extremist group Islamic State (IS) published a video of the moments before and after James Foley was beheaded on 19 August.
Reports suggest that the black-clad jihadist in the video who has an English accent is from London or south-east England and may have guarded IS captives.
Muslim leaders in Britain have called on their communities to help establish the identity of the jihadist who was filmed beheading the US journalist.
According to reports the man is one of a group of British jihadists - nicknamed The Beatles by their captives - who have been holding Western hostages.
The Muslim Council of Britain, the largest Muslim umbrella group in the country, condemned the "abhorrent murder" of Foley and called for united action by Muslims to stop the "poison of extremism" infiltrating their communities.
"We condemn unreservedly [IS's] psychopathic violence, whether it is on minorities, on civilians, or on fellow Muslims," the council said in a statement.
"We are horrified at the abhorrent murder of James Foley, a reporter who initially went to the region to expose the human rights abuses of the Syrian regime."
The Guardian said a former hostage had identified the man in the video as the leader of three Britons who had guarded foreign nationals in the city of Raqqa - an Islamic State stronghold in eastern Syria.
Foley was freelancing for GlobalPost when he was captured in Syria in late 2012 and was never heard from again. A spokesman for the news outlet said Thursday that Islamic State militants demanded a payment of 100 million euros in exchange for his release.
GlobalPost said it turned over the demand to U.S. investigators. But, to avoid encouraging kidnappings, the United States has not paid ransoms in numerous instances where Americans have been held captive in combat zones throughout the world. It has exchanged prisoners in some instances, said VOA news.
James Foley's family was prepared to break US law to pay ransom for his release, a close family friend has claimed, according to the Telegraph.
Reports state that the Foley's family was in fact raising funds to pay a ransom to IS terrorists..
Diane and John Foley believed that they would not be jailed for buying their son's freedom after taking legal advice, but US law states that if such a ransom is paid, the US department of Justice will launch a prosecution for funding terrorism.
When Foley was beheaded in a propaganda video released this week, his executioner said that he was being killed in revenge for US air strikes against IS targets in Iraq.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has condemned the murder of Foley as "hateful" and "barbaric", insisting it would not force them to back away from tackling IS in Iraq and Syria.
"Let's be clear what this act is it is an act of murder, and murder without any justification," Cameron told reporters.
The murdered journalist's younger brother Michael criticized the American government, saying he thought it could have done more to save him.
Militants from the Islamic State group have warned that a second journalist, Steven Sotloff, also would be killed if Obama did not end U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State militants in Iraq.