Barack Obama
Barack Obama Reuters

US President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday that the United States would not be intimidated by the beheading of a second
American reporter, but acknowledged the fight against the extremist Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) would take time.

Obama pledged that justice would be done to the IS murderers who brutally beheaded 31-year-old reporter Steven Sotloff, who was also an Israeli citizen, wherever they hid and however long it took.

Obama said the whole world had been repulsed by the barbarism of Sotloff's murder, but "we will not be intimidated. Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served."

However, just last Thursday Obama said his administration has "no strategy" vis-a-vis the IS threat in Syria. White House press secretary Josh Earnest rushed to justify the statement as meaning no strategy "yet," although the addition has not satisfied critics.

In the meantime, the US has ruled out airstrikes on IS terrorists in Syria, as well as any cooperation with the brutal regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Obama did however authorize around 350 more US troops to increase security at US diplomatic facilities in Baghdad just hours after the execution video was posted.

The murder has been hard blow to the Miami-based Sotloff family, who said in a statement: "The family knows of this horrific tragedy and is grieving privately. There will be no public comment from the family during this difficult time."

Sotloff's former employers at Time and Foreign Policy paid tribute to a man widely respected for his intrepid reporting in Syria and the wider region, including a previous stint in Libya.

"Despicable act"

In the IS video of the execution, which follows a similar filmed beheading of US journalist James Foley, the terrorists threatened to kill a British captive next unless the UK backs off from its support of the US airstrikes on IS targets in Iraq.

Responding to the threat on a citizen of his nation, UK Prime Minister David Cameron said that Britain too refused to be cowed, while Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said that British airstrikes were not being ruled out.

Cameron called the beheading an "absolutely disgusting, despicable act" and chaired a meeting of security chiefs to discuss how to tackle the IS threat.

The masked executioner in the video spoke with a London accent and claimed to be the same man, confirmed by UK security services as a Briton, who beheaded Foley.

"I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State," the terrorist can be heard saying in the video before murdered Sotloff. "So just as your missiles continue to strike the necks of our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people."

At the end of the video the terrorist threatens another captive, identified as David Cawthorne Haines of the UK. He concludes saying "we take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone."

Britain has maintained a media silence about the kidnapping of aid worker Cawthorne Haines and there were few immediate details about when or how he was abducted.

"I can assure you that we will look at every possible option to protect this person," British foreign minister Hammond said. "We have to deal with (IS) on the basis of the wider threat that they pose to the British public as well as this individual."

"If we judge that air strikes could be beneficial, could be the best way to do that, then we will certainly consider them but we have made no decision to do so at the moment," added Hammond.

Britain has not so far carried out any strikes of its own against jihadist targets in Iraq but it has made extensive reconnaissance flights in support of the US air campaign from its base in Cyprus.

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