Next, the mujahid in black standing next to him also makes a statement. The jihadist speaks in a broken British accent and again blames President Obama for their actions. After his statement, he quickly cuts off the head of Mr. Foley. He then puts the head atop of the body.
In another part of the video, they show that they hold a second American and threaten to do the same if the United States does not stop bombing Iraq. The English translation in a tweet is shown below:
In the video, the two captives are dressed in orange jumpsuits. This is almost undoubtedly a reference to Guantanamo Bay prison captives. The late-amir of IS's predecessor al-Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, also dressed the American Nick Berg in similar fashion before executing him. Knowing how revered Zarqawi is to the IS, this move could also be paying homage to him as well.
This is also almost undoubtedly signalling a stronger stance against the United States. Until now, their stance on the United States has been rhetorical at best. In the wake of this atrocity, the Islamic State could begin to kidnap more Americans in the region and either do the same as Mr. Foley or hold them captive for leverage. It is unclear if the Islamic State has the capabilities to conduct a terrorist attack outside the boundaries of Iraq and Syria, but active plotting could potentially begin to happen (if not already).
Like their former brethren in al-Qaeda, the Islamic State spends most of theirtime and resources stoking local or regional insurgencies and chaos. For al-Qaeda, only a small amount of their operations are dedicated to external operations. This is in part due to their desire to gain territory. As Thomas Joscelyn puts it, "they [al-Qaeda] are political revolutionaries". As IS follows the very same ideology, it stands to reason that that assessment fits the IS as well--like how they declared a Caliphate.
Just like how AQAP can manage both waging an insurgency and conducting terrorist attacks on the United States (albeit unsuccessfully) or the Pakistani Taliban doing the same, it is also rational to think the IS can do the same. Some analysts and journalists like to write this threat off as nonsense quoting how busy or preoccupied the IS is in Syria or Iraq. But, would that logic not fit AQAP or the TTP? Both are very busy in fighting their respective enemies, but yet both have found the time to (unsuccessfully) conduct acts of terror on the United States.
Similar to how al-Qaeda sometimes shifts resources to external operations as needed, the Islamic State could potentially do the same. In this move of execution, it is definitely a message that they are not afraid to kill Americans; that they most definitely consider us an enemy and even a potential target. By committing this heinous crime, they are directly challenging President Obama; however, this should come as even more of a reason (like there even needed to be another with their countless crimes against people in both Iraq and Syria) to defeating the Islamic State and not backing down to their demands.
Note: Out of respect to Mr. Foley's family, we have chosen not to link to the video on LiveLeak or show pictures of his unfortunate death. Out of respect to Mr. Sotloff's family (the second captive), we have removed the image from the embeded tweet above. We still, however, left the English translation from the tweet.