ISIL militants murder second US reporter
WASHINGTON - Agence France-PresseThe militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have murdered a second American reporter, releasing another video Sept. 2 showing a masked militant with a British accent cutting the throat of a US captive.
In the latest footage, the 31-year-old reporter Steven Sotloff calmly addresses the camera to say he is a victim of President Barack Obama’s decision to press on with air strikes against the jihadists.
At the end of the five-minute recording, discovered online by the SITE terrorism monitoring group and seen by AFP, the militant threatens another captive, identified on screen as a British citizen.
"I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State," the black-clad jihadist says, wielding a combat knife and speaking in a London accent.
This was a reference to a video issued last month in which U.S. journalist James Foley was murdered, again by a suspected British foreign fighter, and in almost identical fashion.
The fighter condemned recent U.S. air strikes on the area around the Mosul Dam in Iraq, dating the footage after 40-year-old Foley’s killing.
"So just as your missiles continue to strike the necks of our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people," he declared, before reaching round to cut his captive’s throat.
Sotloff’s hair and beard were longer than in the previous footage, in which he was threatened with death in retaliation for U.S. strikes against ISIL forces.
In a warning to Britain, the killer declared: "We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone."
US confirms authenticity of video
The White House confirmed on Sept. 2 the authenticity of the video.
"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," said National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden.
Earlier, the Sotloff family, who live in Miami, issued a statement through a spokesman, Barak Barfi, that also implicitly confirmed the video as authentic.
"The family knows of this horrific tragedy and is grieving privately. There will be no public comment from the family during this difficult time," it said.
After Foley’s death, Sotloff’s mother Shirley had addressed a video message to ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi pleading for her son’s life, and insisting he had no influence on US policy.
The latest brutal murder, which came on the heels of fresh reports of more ISIL atrocities against Iraqi and Syrian prisoners, will increase pressure on Obama to toughen his stance against the group.
He has promised to be "relentless" in his protection of U.S. citizens in Iraq but admitted last week that Washington does not yet have a strategy to deal with IS in its heartland in eastern Syria.
Obama left Washington on Sept. 2 for Europe, where he was due to meet NATO leaders later this week, and made no comment on Sotloff’s murder or the situation in Iraq and Syria.
The jihadists have reportedly carried out widespread atrocities. On Sept. 2, Amnesty International accused them of war crimes and ethnic cleansing.
The Sunni extremist group has declared an Islamic "caliphate" in regions under its control in Iraq and Syria.