The US, UK and France have expressed abhorrence at the apparent beheading of American journalist James Foley by an Islamic State(IS) militant.
The jihadist group released a video of Foley, missing in Syria since 2012, saying his killing was revenge for US air strikes on its fighters in Iraq.
France said, if confirmed, it was barbaric; the UK said it was depraved.
Foley's mother Diane said he "gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people."
President Barack Obama is due to give a statement later. But White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said: "If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist."
Foley, 40, has reported extensively across the Middle East, working for US publication GlobalPost and other media outlets including French news agency AFP.
In a statement, GlobalPost asked for "prayers for Jim and his family", adding that it was waiting for the video to be verified.
British accent In the video, titled A Message to America, a man identified as James Foley is dressed in an orange jumpsuit, kneeling in desert-like terrain beside an armed man dressed in black.
He gives a message to his family and links his imminent death to the US government's bombing campaign of IS targets in Iraq.
Clearly under duress, he says: "I call on my friends, family and loved ones to rise up against my real killers, the US government, for what will happen to me is only a result of their complacency and criminality."
Then the masked militant, who speaks with a British accent, delivers a warning to the US government: "You are no longer fighting an insurgency. We are an Islamic army and a state that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims worldwide.
"So any attempt by you Obama to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people."
After he speaks, the militant appears to start cutting at his captive's neck before the video fades to black.
His body is then seen on the ground.
Another captive, identified as American journalist Steven Sotloff, is shown at the end, with the warning that his fate depends on President Barack Obama's next move.
Mr Sotloff was abducted in northern Syria a year ago.