ISIS has reportedly released a video showing the beheading of an American journalist who disappeared last year while covering the war-torn Middle East, two weeks to the day that the militant group killed freelance journalist James Foley.
The New York Times tweeted Tuesday afternoon that ISIS released a 2:46 minute video purportedly showing the killing of Steven Sotloff, a TIME magazine contributor, citing SITE Intel Group, a self-described provider of “Jihadist/White Supremacist News and Threats.”
After purportedly executing Sotloff, ISIS also threatened to kill British citizen David Cawthorne Haines, according to SITE Intel Group.
— SITE Intel Group (@siteintelgroup) September 2, 2014
It’s unclear if the White House has seen the video or if the footage is authentic.
In the purported video, Sotloff is reportedly heard telling the camera: “I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing…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?”
Sotloff’s purported death comes exactly two weeks after the terrorist group released a video titled “A Message to America” in which a masked militant is seen killing Foley and threatens to execute Sotloff unless the United States ceased its bombing operation in Iraq.
Sotloff, 31, was seen kneeling in the sand with his hands bound.
Just last week, Sotloff’s mother Shirley, released a video to her son’s hostage takers hoping to appeal to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who declared himself caliph.
“I am sending this message to you, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, the caliph of the Islamic State. I am Shirley Sotloff. My son Steven is in your hands,” she said, according to the Times, which obtained the video.
“You, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you please to release my child,” she added. “I ask you to use your authority to spare his life.”
ISIS has fast-become one of the most dangerous militant groups in the Middle East, spreading from Syria and then into Iraq, wreaking havoc across the region while slaughtering civilians and religious minorities who refuse to convert. It has reportedly kidnapped women from an ancient faith called Yazidi and either forced them into marriages or made them their sex slaves.
With the situation in Iraq quickly deteriorating, President Obama ordered missile strikes to push back ISIS fighters.
ISIS goes by several different names: Islamic State, Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).
In a televised statement following Foley’s death, a grim-looking Obama said “James Foley’s life stands in stark contrast with his killers.
“They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims—both Sunni and Shia—by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people.”
As per US policy, the government does not offer ransom money to terrorists groups in exchange for American citizens. That thinking differs from many countries in Europe, which according to a Times report, pays millions in ransom to secure the freedom of its citizens.
In a statement, Committee to Protect Journalists Executive Director Joel Simon condemned Sotloff’s purported death and said the slaying of two American reporters are war crimes.
“Journalists know that covering war is inherently dangerous and that they could get killed in crossfire,” Simon said. “But being butchered in front of camera simply for being a reporter is pure barbarism. We condemn in the strongest terms possible the murder of journalist Steven Sotloff. He, like James Foley, went to Syria to tell a story. They were civilians, not representatives of any government. Their murders are war crimes and those who committed them must be brought to justice swiftly.”