Defense & National Security

ISIS beheads another American journalist on video

ISIS beheads another American journalist on video

At the end of their videotaped murder of captive American journalist James Foley, the butchers of ISIS promised that his fellow journalist Steven Sotloff would be killed next.  Another video has been released that shows them making good on this threat, and it appears to be the same British-sounding individual (the most likely suspect being former London rapper Abdel Majed Abdel Bary) performing the grisly deed.  The video still needs to be authenticated, but as of Tuesday afternoon, it was widely thought to be genuine.  Sotloff’s family has reportedly confirmed his death:

The UK Daily Mail describes the new video:

In the video entitled ‘A Second Message to America,’ Sotloff appears in a orange jumpsuit before he is beheaded by an Islamic State fighter.

The executioner appears to be the same man who killed Foley – known as ‘Jihadi John’ – and tells the camera: ‘I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.”

He also threatens to kill a Briton held hostage by the group next.

The executioner points his knife menacingly at the camera as he speaks. Clad in the same black garb he wore during Foley’s execution, the killer has a pistol strapped under his arm in a shoulder holster. The black flag of the Islamic State can be seen waving in the background.

Once again, the hostage is forced to read a statement by his murderers, which the Daily Mail transcribes in full:

‘I am Steven Joel Sotloff. I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing before you. And now this is the time for my message:

‘Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be the preservation of American lives and interests, so why is that I am paying the price of your interference with my life? Am I not an American citizen? We’ve spent billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars and we’ve lost thousands of our troops in our previous fighting against the Islamic State, so what are the people’s interests in reigniting war?

‘From what little I know about foreign policy, I remember a time when you could not win an election without promising to bring our troops back from Iraq and Afghanistan and to close down Guantanamo. Here you are now, Obama, nearing the end of your term, and having achieved none of the above and deceivingly marching us the American people in the blazing fire.’

The jihadists take over for the big finish, complete with some mockery of Obama’s Tee Time statement on the murder of James Foley:

While he speaks, a militant calmly holds a knife at his side and stands next to Sotloff.

The man believed to be Jihadi John also says: ‘As your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike necks of your people.’

At least one version of the video posted online openly taunts President Barack Obama, showing his statement about the execution of James Foley.

‘The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless. When people harm Americans anywhere, we will do what’s necessary to see that justice is done.

‘And we will act against ISL standing alongside others,’ the president intones.

The video then cuts to the execution scene.

You will not be surprised to learn that the White House claimed to be hearing about Sotloff’s killing at the same time as the rest of us:

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was taken by surprise when a reporter asked him about the video during a regular Tuesday press briefing.

The initial reports had surfaced, President Obama’s chief spokesman suggested, while he was already speaking to reporters.

‘This may have just happened in the last few minutes while I’ve been standing up here,’ Earnest said.

‘This is something that the administration has obviously been watching carefully since this threat against Mr. Sotloff’s life was originally made a few weeks ago,’ he added.

‘I’m not in a position to confirm the authenticity of that video, or reports, obviously,’ he cautioned, ‘since I just walked out here.’

‘But if there is a video that has been released, it is something that will be analyzed very carefully by the U.S. government and our intelligence officials to determine its authenticity.’

It takes a little chutzpah for the bumbling spokesman of this incompetent White House to claim they’ve been monitoring Sotloff’s plight closely at the same time they’re admitting they were totally blindsided by it.  There were also a few grim chuckles when Earnest claimed Obama had been “hard at work” on coming up with a strategy to deal with ISIS.  In reality, the President spent the entire weekend at fundraisers and the wedding of an MSNBC host.  The sad thing is that while Obama doesn’t have a strategy to deal with ISIS, they really don’t need much of a strategy to deal with him.  Part-time President, full-time world.

Not to be outdone, a clearly shaken and out-of-her-depth Jen Psaki, spokeswoman for the State Department, stammered something about how the Administration’s “actions speak to our commitment” to take on the Islamic State, and said she didn’t want to “put any labels on this” when asked if the murders of Foley and Sotloff should be considered acts of war.  Gosh, it’s hard to understand why ISIS is so angry, when the Obama Administration steadfastly refuses to put labels on them.

Psaki also refused to discuss how many American hostages ISIS is holding: “We’ve said ‘a few.’  That continues to be accurate.”  Does that mean they’ve got a few more after these executions?

While Obama was content to let his spokes-teenagers do the talking, British Prime Minister David Cameron immediately denounced the slaying of Sotloff as “an absolutely disgusting and despicable act,” and promised to have a longer statement ready shortly.  After beheading Sotloff, the ISIS thugs said their next victim would be British hostage David Cawthorne Haines, an aid worker, who appears briefly in the murder video, kneeling and wearing the same sort of orange jumpsuit worn by Foley and Sotloff.

A brief biography of Sotloff from ABC News:

At the time of his capture, Sotloff, 31, had been covering the Middle East for years as a freelance reporter, including stints in Yemen and Egypt. He wrote for Time Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the Daily Caller, Foreign Policy, and most recently for World Affairs Journal.

The reporter studied journalism at the University of Central Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel. His articles online show heartfelt reporting about the brutality of the Syrian war.

His parents live in Miami, and Sotloff’s last Tweet, from August 2013, was about the Miami Heat NBA team.

His Twitter feed, which was his major online presence beyond his reported stories, showed a mix of humor and seriousness about his reporting.

Friends of Sotloff and his family had started a White House petition urging the government to do all it can to rescue the freelance reporter.

“Steven Sotloff is an American citizen and reporter with Time magazine who is believed to have gone missing in August of 2013,” the petition read. “Today, on August 19, 2014 it was revealed that Steven is a captive of the Islamist terrorist organization ISIS.”

“We, the undersigned call upon you, President Obama, to take immediate action to save Steven’s life by any means necessary,” it said.

Matthew Van Dyke, a documentary filmmaker, self-described “revolutionary” and friend of Sotloff’s, told ABC News that the two last saw each other in Washington, D.C., just a few weeks before Sotloff’s disappearance. Van Dyke has reported from the Middle East, and joined the fighting during the Libyan revolution, and was held as a prisoner of war.

“We were talking about his upcoming trip to Syria,” Van Dyke said. “I feel horrible for what he’s going through, I can’t really imagine. I mean I thought I had a tough time in Libya but to be held by ISIS for this long, Steven’s been there for a year now and who knows what kind of conditions they’re in. It’s absolutely horrifying. I can’t imagine it.”

World Affairs, the journal that had most recently employed Sotloff, described him as “an honest and thoughtful journalist who strives to understand the story from local perspectives and report his findings straightforwardly. He is certainly courageous.”

Sotloff’s mother Shirley pleaded with the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, to release her son in a televised interview last week, saying: “My son is in your hands.  As a mother I ask Your Justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over.  I ask you to use your authority to spare his life.”  The matter he had “no control over” would be a reference to U.S. foreign policy.

Mrs. Sotloff added, “I want what every mother wants, to life to see her children’s children.  I plead with you to grant me this.”  Tragically, those pleas fell on deaf ears.  Prayers for Steven Sotloff and his grieving family.

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