According to a video called “A Second Message to America,” made public Tuesday, a second American journalist has been beheaded by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). The video shows the death of Steven Joel Sotloff, 31, by supposedly the same masked jihadist who killed journalist James Foley, 40, exactly two weeks ago.
The video shows Steven Sotloff kneeling and being held at knifepoint by a black-clad militant against a desert backdrop similar to the one shown in an earlier video depicting the beheading of Foley. Mr. Sotloff addresses the camera and describes himself as “paying the price” for Mr. Obama’s decision to strike the group, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, in northern Iraq.
“I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing,” Sotloff said under obvious pressure. “Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be for preservation of American lives and interests, so why is it that I am paying the price of your interference with my life?” The video then cuts to the masked militant warning that as long as U.S. missiles “continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
“I’m back, Obama,” said the left-handed executioner with a British accent who supposedly is the same man who killed Foley. “And I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.” He also threatens the life of British captive David Cawthorne Haines in the end, urging governments to abandon the “evil alliance of America against the Islamic State.”
The United States has carried out more than 100 airstrikes against Islamic State fighters in Iraq over the last month since the group expanded its control of territory there. Nevertheless apart from an attempt to rescue James Foley and other journalists, direct military involvment has been avoided by the U.S. administration.
Last week, Mr. Sotloff’s mother, Shirley Sotloff, taped a video statement in which she addressed the leader of Islamic State directly and pleaded for her son’s release, a freelance journalist who was captured in northern Syria a year ago. Mr. Sotloff, who spent years in the Middle East writing for publications including Time and Foreign Policy, was abducted near the Turkish border in Syria in August 2013.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that, the White House was not able to confirm the authenticity of the latest beheading video, but nevertheless “our thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, are with Mr. Sotloff and Mr. Sotloff’s family and those who worked with him.”
On the other hand, Sotloff family spokesman Barak Barfi said the family is aware of the video and is “grieving privately.”