ISIS claims to behead U.S. reporter Steven Sotloff in new video
ISIS has released a video that it claims to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff.
Sotloff, who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, had last been seen in Syrian in August 2013 until he appeared in a video released online last month by the Islamic State group that showed the beheading of fellow American journalist James Foley.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit against the backdrop of an arid Syrian landscape, Sotloff was threatened in that video with death unless the U.S. stopped airstrikes on the group in Iraq.
In the video distributed Tuesday and entitled "A Second Message to America," Sotloff appears in a similar jumpsuit before he is beheaded by an Islamic State fighter.
The video appears to show the same British fighter who killed James Foley.
The terrorist says: ‘As your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike necks of your people.’
On Thursday, Sotloff’s mother Shirley Sotloff went on television to make a direct appeal for her son’s life. She addressed Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-claimed caliph of ISIS.
'My son is in your hands,' Ms Sotloff said. '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.'
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 Sotloff's life was originally made a few weeks ago,' he added.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.'
Despite hearing about the video release for the first time, Earnest pivoted to expressing the sympathies of the White House.
'Our thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, are with Mr. Sotloff and Mr. Sotloff's family and those who worked with him,' he said. 'The United States, as you know, has dedicated significant time and resources to try and rescue Mr. Sotloff.'