Sir Peter Westmacott, the British ambassador to the U.S., says intelligence officers are getting closer to identifying the man who beheaded American journalist James Foley, NBC News reports.
Westmacott discussed the progress on “Meet the Press” Sunday, saying “I think we are close.” He explained that they were using voice recognition software to identify the man.
The ambassador also stressed the implications of the man’s identity. “It’s not just about one brutal murderer,” he said. “There are a whole lot of other people, there are other hostages who are under threat.”
“We think there’s probably as many as 500 people from the United Kingdom who have gone to join ISIS,” Westmacott explained. “A betrayal of all that we stand for. And I might add, a betrayal of everything, frankly, the teachings of the Prophet stand for.”
Foley went missing in Syria in November 2012 while he was reporting on the Syrian civil war. He had been previously kidnapped in 2011 during the Libyan civil war. ISIS released a video on Aug. 19 showing Foley’s execution. (RELATED: IS Beheads American Journalist On Camera)
During the course of the video, the executioner speaks with a British accent, which led to speculation that he is a westerner. (RELATED: ‘Apparent’ That James Foley’s Killer Is A Westerner)
Senior Obama administration officials have also released information that the U.S. had previously attempted, and failed, to recover Foley and others in July. (RELATED: Secret July Mission To Rescue Foley And Other Hostages Revealed)