LONDON (CNN) -

An international manhunt is under way for the fighter shown in a video of the beheading of journalist James Foley -- and its focus is on Britain.

The Islamic State militant on the video has his face covered, except for his eyes. But he has what sounds like a distinctly British accent.

UK media reports are rife with speculation about where he's from. Linguistics experts say his accent indicates he is from southeast England or London, perhaps the capital's East End.

As details of the cold-blooded execution of Foley emerged, British Prime Minister David Cameron interrupted his summer vacation to head a meeting of the government's emergency committee, known as COBRA, in London.

Speaking to the media, he condemned the killing as "a murder without any justification" and said that while the man has not been identified, "it looks increasingly likely that it is a British citizen."

A lengthy process

With an estimated 400 to 500 British recruits in Syria and Iraq -- though some believe the number to be much higher -- it may take time to identify the killer.

And UK Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the government is well aware of the threat these British jihadis pose, at home as well as overseas.

"We've been saying for a very long time that there are a significant number of British nationals, both in Syria and Iraq, operating with extremist organizations," he said.

"Many of these people may seek at some point to return to the UK and they would then pose a direct threat to our domestic security.

"This is a poison, a cancer, what's going on in Iraq and Syria, and it risks spreading to other parts of the international community and affecting us all directly."

Easy recruits

Analysts who study the Islamic State say they are not surprised by the role played by a Briton in Foley's killing.

"The British fighters who have been going out to the Islamic State, who we've been monitoring now for many years, are really wanting to be at the forefront of this conflict," Shiraz Maher, a senior research fellow at King's College London, told CNN. "They're not backseat drivers in any sense."

The power of the Internet means radicalization and recruitment of fighters is also alarmingly easy.

According to a defector from the ranks of ISIS, the jihadist group runs a series of Internet chat groups to begin the process of indoctrinating and filtering potential recruits from outside Syria.

Europeans sought after

The defector, who agreed to an interview with CNN earlier this summer but wanted to hide his identity, said that European recruits were more sought after and treated in a different class by the recruiters.

"There was special treatment for the Europeans," he said. "One British guy said he was called Ibrahim, then told me he was from Manchester. One asked my emir (his unit's head) if he should fight in his own country, or come to Syria. He was told if God doesn't give you martyrdom in Syria, then he could wage war in his own country."

Maajid Nawaz, co-founder and chairman of Quilliam, a London-based counter-extremism think tank, told CNN that British jihadis -- writing on social media websites -- had made plain their intention to carry on their jihad when they return home. Some have posted pictures of themselves posing with homemade bombs.

Nawaz said the estimated 500 British fighters in the region equates to roughly one in every 800 Sunni Muslim British men of fighting age.

'Fighters don't emerge from a vacuum'

"That's a huge proportion of this country's Muslim population who have succumbed to this level of violence," he said.

"Those fighters don't emerge from a vacuum, they don't just spring up from nothing. There must be some form of residual atmosphere that's prevalent within our communities here that somehow incubates that type of mindset. So it's definitely very worrying for us.

"There are roughly 3,000 from across Europe and of course we can travel throughout Europe without a visa -- so that means any country can succumb to these kind of attacks as soon as they return home."