Sotloff beheading video authentic, says White House

A day after it surfaces, US intelligence forces determine that footage of Islamic State executing reporter is genuine

Steven Sotloff next to his Islamic State captor, 'Jihadi John,' in a video released September 2, 2014. (screen capture: SITE/Twitter)
Steven Sotloff next to his Islamic State captor, 'Jihadi John,' in a video released September 2, 2014. (screen capture: SITE/Twitter)

The White House on Wednesday said it has determined that a video showing the brutal killing of freelance journalist Steven Sotloff is authentic.

Islamic State extremists released the video showing Sotloff’s beheading on Tuesday, two weeks after the terrorist group released a video showing the killing of James Foley, another American journalist.

In the Sotloff video, a masked terrorist could be seen warning US President Barack Obama that continuing airstrikes against the group in Iraq would be met with the killing of more Western captives.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden announced the US intelligence community’s assessment of the video in a statement Wednesday.

On Tuesday, the video purporting to document the reporter’s beheading and entitled “A Second Message to America” was released by the Islamic State. In it, Sotloff appears in a similar jumpsuit before he is beheaded by an Islamic State fighter.

According to ABC News, the video appeared online on Tuesday and appears to show Sotloff telling the camera: “I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing.”

“Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be for preservation of American lives and interests, so why is it that I am paying the price of your interference with my life?” Sotloff, dressed in an orange jumpsuit against the backdrop of an arid Syrian landscape, says in the video.

The video then cuts to the terrorist who makes a statement saying that as long as US missiles “continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”

In the video, the radical Islamist group also threatens to execute British national David Cawthorne Haines next unless its demands were met, Site Intel Group, reported. It was not immediately clear who Haines was. Officials with the British Foreign Office declined to immediately comment.

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.

A Sotloff family spokesman told the Associated Press Tuesday that his relatives were aware of the beheading video and are grieving, but at that point, the authorities had not established its authenticity, with US State Department Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the intelligence community would work “as quickly as possible” to determine its authenticity.

Last month IS executed American reporter James Foley on camera and posted it to the internet, demanding the US halt airstrikes in northern Iraq or it would execute Sotloff.

Sotloff was originally from Miami and had spent the last several years reporting around the Middle East.

AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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