AN AMERICAN burger chain has been panned for using an execution photo of a journalist beheaded by ISIS brute Jihadi John in a sickening Twitter ad.

The family of murdered James Foley have hit out at Washington DC-based Z Burger for being "insensitive and ignorant" of the pain they have been through.

A marketing firm working for the fast food company put an image of Foley - in an orange jumpsuit - kneeling in front of a hooded man dressed head-to-toe in black in the vile online promo.

The image was superimposed with an image of two hands holding a burger with the words: 'When you say you want a burger and someone says okay lets hit McDonald’s.'

It was accompanied by a pair of emoji of eyes with the caption: 'You disgrace me.'

Z Burger owner Peter Tabibian said the post was "in very poor taste" and "was not approved" by him before being uploaded to his company's Twitter account.

In a written apology, he revealed he had "taken immediate steps to ensure that this never happens again."

Furious Tabibian said the "inappropriate and offensive" advertisement was posted by Valor Media, a trendy promo company Z-Burger uses for social media.

It is run by Michael Valor, 23, who also posted an apology on Twitter in the form of a series of videos.

He claimed his company had an "influx" of work in the two weeks before the offensive advert was posted and blamed a "new art director." for it.

Mr Foley's mother, Diane Foley, responded on Twitter via the James Foley Legacy Foundation's account saying she was "very saddened" by the image and its use to sell burgers.

Both Valor and Tabibian have promised donations to the Foundation, which advocates for safe return of Americans captured abroad.

James Foley was working as a freelance war correspondent during the Syrian Civil War when he was abducted on November 22, 2012.

He was beheaded in August 2014 purportedly as a response to US airstrikes in Iraq becoming the first American citizen killed by ISIS.