Daily Israel Report

Islamic State 'Beheads Second US Journalist'

Jewish-American journalist Steve Sotloff beheaded, footage reveals; third journalist threatened, this time a British citizen.
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 9/2/2014, 8:39 PM / Last Update: 9/2/2014, 9:41 PM

James Foley appears in video soon before his execution
James Foley appears in video soon before his execution
Screenshot

Islamic State (IS or ISIS) terrorists have beheaded Jewish-American journalist Steve Sotloff, according to video footage surfacing close to 8:30 pm IST Tuesday - just weeks after uploading a similar video of murdered journalist James Foley

In the video, entitled "A Second Message to America," Sotloff appears in a similar jumpsuit to Foley's before he is beheaded by an Islamic State terrorist. IS had threatened to kill the freelancer unless the US ceased its airstrikes on the terror group in Iraq. 

Sotloff makes what is apparently a pre-scripted speech by his captors, stating that he is "paying the price" for the US intervention in Iraq with his life before being murdered. 

"You've spent billions of U.S. tax payers dollars and we've lost thousands of our troops in our previous fighting against the Islamic State," Sotfloff said. "So where is the people's interest in reigniting this war?"

Just moments later, an IS terrorist in black - apparently the same as the one who executed Foley - directly addresses US President Barack Obama. 

"I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State," the man says. 

The terrorists have now threatened abducted civilian David Cawthorne Haines of the UK with death as well, ending the video with threats to his life until "this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State" ends immediately. Haines, like Foley and Sotloff, is clad in an orange prison jumpsuit. 

Already dead?

Several intelligence experts told the New York Times that the man has the same accent and characteristic as the "John of London" reportedly responsible for the Foley murder.

The experts also proposed that Foley and Sotloff had actually been executed on the same day - along with Haines as well - and that IS is stringing the US and others along to "space out" the videos for maximum effect and leverage. 

However, analysts noted that the hair growth on Sotloff's head in the second video is different than the first, indicating that they may have been filmed on different days. 

Whatever the case, it is clear that IS is using such gruesome beheadings as a psychological weapon - in the absence of any capacity to strike back directly at the moment - to coerce foreign states into ending their alliance with Kurdish forces, who are slowly pushing back some of the jihadi group's advances in Iraq.

US response

White House spokesperson Josh Earnest spoke moments after the video aired. 

"This is something that the administration has obviously been watching very carefully since this threat against Mr. Sotloff's life was originally made a few weeks ago," Earnest said.

"Our thoughts and prayers first and foremost are with Mr. Sotloff and Mr. Sotloff's family and those who worked with him."

Earnest added that he could not confirm, nor deny, the validity of the video. 

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki stated that several intelligence agencies will "work as quickly as possible" to determine whether it is authentic. 

However, "if the video is genuine, we are sickened by this brutal act," the State Department added, several minutes after the initial press conference. 

Sotloff, 31, freelanced for Time, Christian Science Monitor, The World Affairs Journal, and Foreign Policy, and had reported from Egypt, Turkey, Libya, and Yemen. 

He had last been seen in Syria in August 2013. Then, last month, he appeared in the IS's video of Foley's beheading. 

Sotloff's parents knew about his abduction for several months, the New York Times revealed last month, but kept quiet due to fears of exacerbating the situation. 

According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, an estimated 20 journalists have been kidnapped in or near Syria - most of whom are being held hostage by IS.