The U.S. government is still working to confirm that a graphic video released Tuesday by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) shows the gruesome murder of James Foley, but his family has no doubt the 40-year-old American journalist is now dead.
In the video, an ISIS executioner who speaks with a British accent threatens to kill a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, if the U.S. military continues airstrikes against the Sunni Muslim extremists in northern Iraq.
The video shows a militant using a knife to decapitate a man the group identifies as James Foley. Foley, a 40-year-old freelance journalist who had been based in Boston, disappeared in northwest Syria on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012.
At the end of the video, a second hostage is seen. He is identified in the video as freelance photojournalist Steven Joel Sotloff. An ISIS extremist says Sotloff will be the next to die if the United States does not stop its attacks on ISIS positions in northern Iraq. CBS News has not confirmed the identity of the second man.
CBS News contributor and former deputy director of the CIA Mike Morell explains on "CBS This Morning" what American intelligence officials might be able to glean from the gruesome video, and how he believes President Obama should -- and should not -- react to the direct threat from the Islamic extremist group.
ISIS, says Morell, is very clearly "trying to intimidate the U.S. into backing off" from the policy of airstrikes in Iraq.
"I think our response should be, and in fact will be, to not do that," says Morell, who used to be in charge of preparing President Obama's daily intelligence briefings.
He says, if anything, the U.S. military should "pick up the pace" in helping to reclaim territory from the militants who now pose a clear and direct threat to the United States.
"This is ISIS' first terrorist attack against the United States," Morell says of the apparent execution.
British officials have said as many as 400 nationals are believed to have traveled to Syria and Iraq to join ISIS on the battle field.
Dozens of Americans have done the same, and the fact that one of those Westerners appears to have killed Foley highlights the risk of radicalized jihadists with Western passports, which Morell deems the "main danger that ISIS now posses to the United States -- that is the number-one thing we need to worry about."
As for the threat from ISIS to kill Sotloff, Morell is adamant that it must not deter the American government's policy on stopping the terror group's advance.
"We need to keep moving forward with our policy," he told "CBS This Morning" co-anchor Norah O'Donnell. "I would suspect that ISIS may assassinate him, but we need to keep moving forward."
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