Britain close to identifying James Foley's killer, ambassador says

Authorities close to naming ISIS militant
Authorities close to naming ISIS militant

    JUST WATCHED

    Authorities close to naming ISIS militant

MUST WATCH

Authorities close to naming ISIS militant 02:05

Story highlights

  • Foley family releases letter written by the journalist while in captivity in June
  • British ambassador says voice identification technology is being used to ID killer
  • A video posted online shows the militant beheading James Foley
  • The militant speaks with what experts describe as an English accent

British officials "are close" to identifying the ISIS militant who beheaded American journalist James Foley, according to Britain's ambassador to the United States, Peter Westmacott.

Westmacott told CNN's Candy Crowley on Sunday he couldn't elaborate on the identity of the killer, who is seen decapitating Foley in a video posted last week on YouTube.

"We're putting a great deal into the search," he said, referring to the use of sophisticated technology to analyze the man's voice.

In the video, Foley, 40, is seen kneeling next to a man dressed in black, who speaks with what experts say is a distinctly English accent.

Linguists said that based on his voice, the man sounds to be younger than 30. He also appears to have been educated in England from a young age and to be from southern England or London.

James Foley 'smuggled' letters to family
James Foley 'smuggled' letters to family

    JUST WATCHED

    James Foley 'smuggled' letters to family

MUST WATCH

James Foley 'smuggled' letters to family 01:35
PLAY VIDEO
Video holds clues to  Foley's killer
Video holds clues to  Foley's killer

    JUST WATCHED

    Video holds clues to Foley's killer

MUST WATCH

Video holds clues to Foley's killer 01:54
PLAY VIDEO
Foley's family received chilling e-mails
Foley's family received chilling e-mails

    JUST WATCHED

    Foley's family received chilling e-mails

MUST WATCH

Foley's family received chilling e-mails 02:38
PLAY VIDEO
Foley's parents 'underestimated' ISIS
Foley's parents 'underestimated' ISIS

    JUST WATCHED

    Foley's parents 'underestimated' ISIS

MUST WATCH

Foley's parents 'underestimated' ISIS 01:52
PLAY VIDEO
CEO: European govts paid 4M for hostages
CEO: European govts paid 4M for hostages

    JUST WATCHED

    CEO: European govts paid 4M for hostages

MUST WATCH

CEO: European govts paid 4M for hostages 00:36
PLAY VIDEO

Voice, words may provide clues about Foley's killer

The video shows another U.S. journalist, identified as Steven Sotloff, being held by ISIS. The militant warned that Sotloff's fate depends on what President Barack Obama does next in Iraq.

A day after the video was posted, Obama vowed the United States will be "relentless" in striking back against ISIS.

Airstrikes continued to hit ISIS targets near Irbil and the Mosul Dam on Sunday, U.S. Central Command said in a news release. The majority of the strikes have been in support of Iraqi forces near the dam, which briefly fell under ISIS control.

Mourners pack Foley's hometown church

Meanwhile Sunday, hundreds of mourners crammed into Foley's hometown church in New Hampshire to attend his memorial Mass.

"This moment in our lives is international in scope; crossing all boundaries, yet very personal," Bishop Peter A. Libasci said. "[We are] bound together by a deep sense of human compassion and heartfelt remorse."

Foley's parents, who received a standing ovation, asked for privacy and thanked mourners for their support.

Foley disappeared on November 22, 2012, in northwest Syria, near the border with Turkey. He was reportedly forced into a vehicle by gunmen; he was not heard from again. At the time of his disappearance, he was working as a freelancer for the U.S.-based online news outlet GlobalPost.

His family released a letter Sunday said to be written in June by Foley. Because his letters were confiscated in captivity, Foley's family said he asked another hostage set to be released to commit the letter to memory.

Who is James Foley's executioner?
Who is James Foley's executioner?

    JUST WATCHED

    Who is James Foley's executioner?

MUST WATCH

Who is James Foley's executioner? 00:10
PLAY VIDEO
The search for James Foley's killer
The search for James Foley's killer

    JUST WATCHED

    The search for James Foley's killer

MUST WATCH

The search for James Foley's killer 01:44
PLAY VIDEO
Freed hostage reflects on Foley
Freed hostage reflects on Foley

    JUST WATCHED

    Freed hostage reflects on Foley

MUST WATCH

Freed hostage reflects on Foley 06:22
PLAY VIDEO
Obama: America does not forget
Obama: America does not forget

    JUST WATCHED

    Obama: America does not forget

MUST WATCH

Obama: America does not forget 03:17
PLAY VIDEO

In the letter, Foley reflects on favorite family memories -- a trip to the mall with his father, a bike ride with his mom -- and gives details of his time in captivity.

Comfort from others being held

"Eighteen of us have been held together in one cell, which has helped me. We have had each other to have endless long conversations about movies, trivia, sports," Foley wrote, describing makeshift games of checkers, chess and Risk.

"The games and teaching each other have helped the time pass. They have been a huge help."

He had specific messages of love for his brothers and sister, and to his grandmother he told her, "please take your medicine, take walks and keep dancing."

By the time he wrote the letter, he had already been held captive for a year and half, and seemed to waver between remaining hopeful for his release, while also resigned to his fate. While addressing his brothers and sister, he gives specific wishes on who his money should go to and thanks them for "happy childhood memories." But he closes the letter by addressing his "Grammy."

"Stay strong," he told her, "because I am going to need your help to reclaim my life."

The following month, over the July 4 weekend, U.S. special operations units were sent into Syria to rescue Foley and other hostages held by Islamist militants, a U.S. official told CNN. Several dozen of the most elite U.S. commandos from Delta Force and Navy SEAL Team 6 flew in on helicopters but couldn't find the hostages, including Foley.

His captors recently sent an e-mail to his family threatening his death -- a message Philip Balboni, the CEO of GlobalPost, described as "vitriolic and filled with rage against the United States."

Foley's captors demanded 100 million euros ($132.5 million) in exchange for his release, Balboni told CNN last week.

READ: Brother: 'More ... could have been done' to save James Foley

READ: Former CIA chief: Matter of time before ISIS tries to attack West

READ: Opinion: Should we call ISIS 'evil'?