WH Security Adviser: Foley Beheading 'Represents a Terrorist Attack Against Our Country'

By Susan Jones | August 25, 2014 | 6:28 AM EDT

Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes (AP File Photo)

(CNSNews.com) - Was the beheading of American James Foley a terrorist attack against the United States?

"Well, absolutely," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes told the reporter who asked that question on Friday.

"When you see somebody killed in such a horrific way, that represents a terrorist attack. That represents a terrorist attack against our country and against an American citizen, and I think all of us have the Foley family in our thoughts and prayers."

Moments later, Rhodes repeated that the "brutal execution of Him Foley represented an affront, an attack, not just on him, but he's an American and we see that as an attack on our country when one of our own is killed like that."

Rhodes said the Obama administration considers ISIS/ISIL a threat to the United States and to the "entire world."

"For Americans in the homeland, I think what we'd say is we monitor very closely whether or not ISIL will seek to develop plots that are aimed at the West, aimed at beyond this geographic area where they have been operating. We are doing that. We are actively consulting with European partners about how to watch the threat that they could pose to the West.

"We take their threats seriously because we have to take every threat that's made against the United States seriously..."

Rhodes said the terrorist threat must be addressed in both Iraq and Syria, and that's why the Obama administration is training and equipping Iraqi and Kurdish security forces:"We are also providing support and military assistance to the moderate Syrian opposition. What we would like to see is those -- those efforts squeeze the space where ISIL operates."

Looking ahead, Rhodes said, "We are going to do what is necessary to protect Americans. And so if we see plotting against Americans, we see a threat to the United States emanating from anywhere, we stand ready to take action against that threat. We've made very clear time and again that, if you come after Americans, we're going to come after you, wherever you are, and that's what's going to guide our planning in the days to come."

He refused to say if President Obama has agreed to air strikes against ISIL in Syria, "but we would certainly look at what is necessary in the long term to make sure we're protecting Americans," he added.