The Islamic State’s response to air strikes in Iraq against their advancing forces in the form of the video of James Wright Foley’s execution has shocked and horrified the entire world. The US journalist was abducted in November 2012 and has been missing since. Not only that, but another American journalist now identified as Steven Sotloff was also featured in the video, with the IS making it clear that he was next if the US continued to play any part in the Iraqi conflict. The US has conducted 84 air strikes since the 8th of August. The video titled ‘A message to America’ is a blatant challenge to the US and a reminder of the brutal nature of the militants. There is no length that the IS will not go to. There is no quarter reserved for innocent civilians or journalists.

The US must now respond. History shows that silence will not be an option. Interventions have been made for less. But the American public will never accept another boots-on-the-ground operation. The US government’s hesitation to supply the Peshmurga with arms however will probably be at an end. The frequency of the airstrikes will also increase in all probability, and the fate of Steven Sotloff still hangs in the balance; an American, and as a symbol of what America purports to stand for. The US has roughly 250 operatives in Iraq at this moment. Are efforts now being made to search for the missing journalist? What’s next for the IS, now that it has internationalised the war? Executing Americans, and the video featuring an IS fighter with a strong British accent. While the terrorist organization is arguably one of the most brutal ever seen, the IS is now fighting enemies on all fronts, by its own invitation. In areas around Mosul, it is locked in a struggle with the Iraqi army and in the North, with the Peshmurga while having to deal with US airstrikes. In Syria, it is fighting both the Syrian government army and the Free Syrian Army (the other rebels) forces. While in the short run their tactics have proved effective for their murderous agenda, the long run might not oblige equally.