The terrorist group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has reportedly executed Steven Sotloff, a 31-year-old American journalist who went missing in northern Syria in 2013. ISIS released a video showing Steven Sotloff's alleged beheading, though the video has yet to be verified by authorities. Reuters reports that ISIS directed a message to not only the United States, but also to its Western allies, calling it an "evil alliance of America against the Islamic State."
According to The Associated Press, the nearly three-minute-long video, titled "A Second Message to America," shows Sotloff in an orange jumpsuit before he's murdered by an ISIS guard. ISIS then threatened to execute its third captive, a Briton identified as David Cawthorne Haines.
In the video, Sotloff presented a speech — most likely scripted by his captors — saying he's "paying the price" for the Obama administration, according to The New York Times. NBC News reports that the video opens with a clip from a recent Obama speech.
A masked ISIS guard then addresses the camera, saying:
I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.
Sotloff's execution comes two weeks after American photojournalist James Foley was beheaded by the terrorist group in Syria. Foley was abducted in northern Syria in November 2012. He was 40 years old.
Sotloff, who has written for The Christian Science Monitor, Time and Foreign Policy, was shown at the end of Foley's execution video, flanked by armed ISIS members and wearing an orange jumpsuit. The ISIS members threatened that Sotloff would be killed if the United States didn't stop its military action against the terrorist group in Iraq.
It's still unclear if Sotloff's executioners are the same as Foley's. The New York Times reports that the masked figure is the same person who appeared in Foley's execution video — a British man identified by U.K. intelligence officials as 23-year-old Abdel-Majed Abdel Bary — but this most recent video remains unconfirmed.
President Obama, who's preparing to travel to Estonia and Wales this week to discuss the escalating crisis in Eastern Europe, has yet to address the newly released video. White House press secretary Josh Earnest was briefing reporters Tuesday afternoon when journalists broke the news to him. He said he was unable to verify the video and Sotloff's beheading, but told reporters:
This is something that the administration has obviously watching very carefully since this threat against Mr Sotloff’s life was originally made a few weeks ago. Our thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, are with Mr Sotloff and Mr Sotloff’s family and those who worked with him.