A video purporting to show the militant group Islamic State beheading U.S. reporter Steven Sotloff (31) was released on Tuesday, exactly two weeks after they disseminated on the Internet a similar gruesome video depicting the killing of another American journalist, James Foley.
Although unlike the video of Foley the beheading of Sotloff was not accessible on social media, the SITE Intel Group , an organisation tracking the online activity of terrorist groups reported that IS, the organisation that has overrun vast swathes of Syria and Iraq, had posted the clip online.
Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council Spokesperson said in a message distributed to journalists that the White House had seen a video that purported to be the murder of U.S. citizen Sotloff by IS, adding however, “The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends.
In its second message a similarly masked IS militant reportedly said, “I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State ... despite our serious warnings,” adding, “So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
The video then shows him beheading Mr. Sotloff, SITE and other agencies reported, and the militant further warns that another captured civilian — David Haines of the UK — would be killed next murdered unless “this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State” ended.
Reports suggested that the militant, believed to be a member of IS, was again clad entirely in black and wearing a black mask, and could be seen drawing a knife across Mr. Sotloff's neck before a barren desert landscape. Mr. Sotloff was seen wearing an orange jumpsuit as Mr. Foley was, and his hands were tied behind his back. Similar to the video of Mr. Foley's death, a separate still shows Mr. Sotloff's severed head resting on his corpse, reports added.
The Wall Street Journal quoted an unnamed U.S. official saying there was “no reason to believe the video isn't authentic,” and reported that U.S. government officials believed that Mr. Sotloff was “likely killed immediately after Mr. Foley in August, and that militants delayed the release to heighten the impact of the video".
The officials added that Mr. Haines, who was shown in the Sotloff video “has also likely been killed".
Although the White House did not immediately confirm the authenticity of the latest video titled, “A Second Message to America,” U.S. Press Secretary Joshua Earnest said that the administration’s “thoughts and prayers” were with the Sotloff family, and State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said she was “sickened” by the news.
Mr. Earnest also noted that the U.S. had “dedicated significant time and resources” to try and rescue him, corroborating news that came earlier of a covert, but ultimately unsuccessful, commando mission to rescue multiple hostages from the clutches of IS earlier this year.