The Islamic State (IS) has released a video online purporting to show the beheading of US journalist James Foley, who went missing in Syria in 2012.
The jihadist militant group said the killing was revenge for US air strikes against its fighters in Iraq, the BBC reports.
Foley's mother Diane said on Facebook she was proud of her son: "He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people."
The White House said if the video was genuine, the US would be "appalled".
Foley has reported extensively across the Middle East, working for the US publication Global Post and other media outlets including the French news agency AFP.
In the video, titled A Message to America, a man who appears to be Mr Foley is dressed in an orange jumpsuit, kneeling in desert-like terrain beside an armed man dressed in black.
The man identified as Mr Foley speaks, giving a message to his family and linking his imminent death to the US government's bombing campaign of IS targets in Iraq.
Then the masked militant, who speaks with a British accent and identifies himself as an IS member, describes Mr Foley as an American citizen and says: "As a government you have been at the forefront of aggression towards the Islamic State."
After he speaks, the militant appears to start cutting at his captive's neck before the video fades to black.
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 a year ago in northern Syria, close to the border with Turkey.