Video shows beheading of 2nd U.S. journalist

(USA TODAY) -- The terrorist group Islamic State released a video Tuesday apparently depicting the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff.

It was the second video of a beheading released by the group in recent weeks..

Sotloff, kneeling in an orange jumpsuit, says he is "paying the price" with his life for the U.S. intervention in Iraq.

"You've spent billions of U.S. taxpayers dollars and we've lost thousands of our troops in our previous fighting against the Islamic State," Sotfloff says. "So where is the people's interest in reigniting this war?"

Moments later, a hooded man dressed in black blames President Obama before beheading Sotloff.

"I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State," the man says.

The Islamic State, consisting of thousands of Sunni militants with roots in al-Qaeda in Iraq, is fighting to carve out a state across a swath of Syria and Iraq featuring strict enforcement of Sharia law.

The SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors terrorist groups on social media and elsewhere, obtained the Islamic State video and posted it on its site. The video, entitled "A Second Message to America," opens with a clip of a press conference in which Obama promises to relentlessly pursue all those who harm Americans.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that, while the White House was not able to confirm the authenticity of the latest beheading video, "Our thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, are with Mr. Sotloff and Mr. Sotloff's family and those who worked with him.

The State Department and National Security Council said intelligence officials were working to quickly determine if the video is authentic.

"If the video is genuine, we are sickened by this brutal act, taking the life of another innocent American citizen," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Sotloff, 31, appeared in a video released by the Islamic State last month that showed the beheading of another journalist, James Foley. The group had threatened to kill Sotloff next.

His mother, Shirley Sotloff, then released a video appealing to the Islamic State for his release.

"Steven has no control over the actions of the U.S. government. He's an innocent journalist," she said. "I've always learned that you, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you to please release my child. As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over."

Sotloff family spokesman Barak Barfi said the family is aware of the video and is "grieving privately."

Sotloff was kidnapped Aug. 4, 2013, near Aleppo, after crossing the Syrian border from Turkey.

He had worked in the region as a freelance journalist and was published in Time, Foreign Policy and elsewhere. He was active on social media while he worked in the Middle East. One video shows him on the streets of Aleppo as a bomber flies overhead.

He was drawn to the hottest stories, regardless of the risks. He listed Benghazi, Libya, as his residence on social media and reported vigorously about the fatal U.S. Embassy attack in the city in late 2012, appearing on Fox News to offer his account and report on his interviews with guards at the compound.

His friend Anne Marloe told The Daily Mail that Sotloff had lived in Yemen for years and spoke Arabic well. "He deeply loved the Islamic world," she said.

Sotloff was a big fan of Miami Heat basketball, jazz and poetry.

Listed on Facebook as one of his favorite quotes is a plea from the late American diplomat George Kennan to refrain from simplifying our foreign enemies: "We Americans like our adversaries wholly inhuman; all powerful, omniscient, monstrously efficient, unhampered by any serious problems of their own, and bent only on schemes for our destruction. Whatever their real nature, we always persist in seeing them this way. It is the reflection of a philosophic weakness — of an inability to recognize any relativity in matters of friendship and enmity."

A Florida native, Sotloff grew up in Miami. He graduated from Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H., where he received a journalism award, according to Manchester TV station WMUR. He went on to attend the University of Central Florida.

Contributing: David Jackson, Doug Stanglin and Roger Yu


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