The Steven Sotloff Execution Video Is Authentic, And Obama Has Pledged Justice
On Wednesday U.S. intelligence confirmed the authenticity of the video of the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff by the militant group ISIS. The video, called "A Second Message To America," was released by ISIS on Tuesday.
"The U.S. Intelligence Community has analyzed the recently released video showing U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff and has reached the judgment that it is authentic," National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said early Wednesday, in emailed comments to news outlets.
Sotloff's death fulfilled a promise made by the group at the end of James Foley's execution, threatening his life if the U.S. did not amend its policies toward ISIS.
Speaking to reporters in Estonia on Wednesday, President Obama reacted to the video with outrage, indicating that the U.S. would soon take action. Obama has been criticized for his administration's zero-policy approach to the militants in the past, but his speech Wednesday showed at least flickers of a need for action.
Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be intimidated, and their horrific acts only unite us as a country, and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists. 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.
In the video showing Sotloff's execution, ISIS turned its sights to the UK citizen David Cawthorne Haines, threatening him just as they threatened Sotloff just weeks before. Haines was confirmed as a security worker for Nonviolent Peaceforce, and was working for another peace group when he was abducted in Syria in 2013.
It's unclear if the executioner is the same "Jihadi John" that killed Foley. But if it isn't him, ISIS certainly wants us to think it is. The rhetoric used in the video indicates more of a continuation, not letting you think for a moment that this is a disparate act.
"I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State," the executioner taunts in the video with Sotloff.
CBS reported that the State Department has identified "a few" Americans still being held by ISIS, without going into specifics. But it is commonly known that a 26-year-old woman who was captured while doing humanitarian work in Syria is being held by the group. Her family has not released her name out of concerns for her safety.