ISIS video showing beheading triggers international response

Updated

Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged on Sunday that “we are at war.” He has been traveling the Middle East trying to encourage Arab allies to join the global coalition to fight terrorist group ISIS.

The latest remarks come after the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS, also known as ISIL) released a propaganda video on Saturday showing the execution of British aid worker David Cawthorne Haines — the latest gruesome attack in a troubling string of beheadings.

The secretary of state’s comments on Sunday signal a change in tone for the country’s stance against the terrorist group. “In terms of al-Qaida, which we have used the word ‘war’ with, yeah … we are at war with al-Qaida and its affiliates. And in the same context if you want to use it, yes, we are at war with ISIL in that sense,” Kerry said on Sunday morning on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” ”But I think it’s waste of time to focus on that. Frankly, let’s consider what we have to do to degrade and defeat ISIL.”

Last week, Kerry told CBS News that “war is the wrong terminology and analogy.” He also would not say that the United States was at war with ISIS during an interview with CNN on Thursday, insisting the White House’s strategy includes “Many different things that one doesn’t think of normally in the context of war.”

The United States began launching airstrikes on ISIS in western Iraq a week ago and is trying to build a coalition of countries to back its efforts to destroy the terrorist group. 

Kerry said that while some countries have offered to send ground troops to the Middle East to fight the terrorist group,  ”we are not looking for that at this moment.” He stressed Syrian opposition forces will serve as troops on the ground.

“The Syrian opposition is on the ground and one of the regrettable things is, it has been fighting ISIL by itself over the course of the last couple of years. And it’s one of the reasons that they’ve had a difficult battle,” Kerry said. “Now, with the air support and other efforts from other countries, they will be augmented in their capacity.”

Kerry flatly rejected the possibility of working with the Syrian government, although authorities there said they’d like to collaborate.

“We’re not going to coordinate, it’s not a cooperative effort. We’re going to do what they haven’t done, what they had plenty of opportunity to do, which is to take on ISIL and to degrade it and eliminate it as a threat,” he said. 

On Saturday, President Obama called the murder of Haines “barbaric” and promised to stand “shoulder to shoulder” with the United Kingdom. The commander-in-chief pledged again to “degrade and destroy” the terrorist organization.

Australian officials, responding to a request by the U.S., said on  Sunday that they will send 600 troops – 400 air force personnel and 200 special forces – to a global coalition fighting ISIS. The troops will be deployed to the United Arab Emirates and be based at a U.S. headquarters there. Australia’s Prime Minister Tony Abbott said it was Haines’ beheading that compelled Australia to act.

British Prime Minister David Cameron has also promised to “hunt down those responsible and bring them to justice no matter how long it takes.” Cameron will hold an emergency meeting with top officials to discuss Britain’s next move.  

Haines, 44, was taken hostage in Syria in March of last year. Like recently executed American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, Haines is forced to read a script in the video. The script has Haines, a Scottish father of two, blaming Cameron for his murder. At the end of the video, ISIS threatens to kill Alan Henning, a British national also being held hostage by the terrorist group.

A spokesman for the U.K.’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office told NBC News that “all the signs are that the video is genuine; We have no reason to believe it’s not.”

The United States began launching airstrikes on ISIS in western Iraq a week ago and is trying to build a coalition of countries to back its efforts to destroy the terrorist group.

White House chief of staff, Denis McDonough, made the Sunday news show rounds to expound on Obama’s strategy of combating ISIS. 

Success, McDonough told host Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” looks like an ISIS “that no longer threatens our friends in the region, no longer threatens the United States … that can’t accumulate followers, or threaten Muslims in Syria, Iran, Iraq, or otherwise.”

McDonough stressed the plan does not involve U.S. ground troops. 

“This is an effort that, like in Yemen and Somalia, where we will take the fight to our enemies without putting our ground troops into the effort,” he said. “We need ground troops, that’s why we want this program to train the opposition, that’s currently pending in Congress.  And that’s why we want to make sure that this coalition bring Sunnis to the fight.” 

Barack Obama, David Cameron, ISIS and Islamic State of Iraq and Syria

ISIS video showing beheading triggers international response

Updated