Islamic State militants had demanded millions of dollars for James Foley's release. While the US government refuses to pay ransoms to kidnappers, some European governments have done so in the past, enriching Al Qaeda and its affiliates.
The PKK - a Kurdish separatist group based in Turkey that the US has placed on its 'terrorist list' – has been in the thick of the fight against the Islamic State in Iraqi Kurdistan.
That's a popular claim. But there's not much evidence to support it.
The US is developing a plan to rescue members of the Yazidi minority group amid increasing calls from the Kurdish government and Yazidi leaders for the US to respond more forcefully against Islamic State militants.
Iraq's president has nominated a replacement for Prime Minister Maliki, who is unpopular at home and abroad. But Iraq's problems go much deeper.
The embattled Iraqi prime minister shows no willingness to step aside for a new unity government, which the US insists is crucial to reduce tensions and resist Islamic State militants.
Territorial gains by Kurdish fighters and relief for stranded Yazidis follow the first days of US military intervention in Iraq. Britain and France are also getting involved. But the Islamic State remains a potent threat.
As Islamic militants advance, President Obama authorized military airstrikes and humanitarian air drops to beleaguered religious minorities in northern Iraq.
The ancient religious group, concentrated in Iraq, have been targeted for extermination by the so-called Islamic State that seized a number of towns along the Iraq-Syrian border this week.
A new government without a capable military won't mean much. And it doesn't appear that Iraq has one at the moment.
Iraqi Kurdistan is moving ahead with independence plans. With Kurds also holding an important swing vote in Iraq's parliament, this is a problem. A big one.