A video released by ISIS shows the beheading of Jewish American journalist Steven Sotloff. US intelligence officials authenticated the video Wednesday morning.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry confirmed Wednesday afternoon that Sotloff was a dual American-Israeli citizen.
The two-minute video, titled “A Second Message to America,” shows the 31-year-old freelance journalist speaking to the camera before being decapitated by a masked ISIS terrorist.
“I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing,” Sotloff said under apparent force. “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 for your interference with my life?”
The executioner, speaking with a British accent and who is believed to be the same person who killed American journalist James Foley, states, “I’m back, Obama. And I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.” He threatens that as long as the US “continues to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
The masked terrorists then states that British captive David Cawthorne Haines would be next. The gruesome video ends showing Sotloff’s severed head next to his body.
Sotloff was last seen in August 2013 in Syria. He was recently threatened with death by ISIS in a video showing the beheading of journalist James Foley last month.
A spokesman for the Sotloff family said their worst fears have been confirmed. “The family knows of this horrific tragedy and is grieving privately,” Barak Barfi told AP. “There will be no public comment from the family during this difficult time.”
The video of Sotloff’s beheading comes days after Sotloff’s mother Shirley released a video pleading for her son’s life directly to the leader of ISIS.
“I want what every mother wants, to live to see her children’s children,” she beseeched. “I plead with your to grant me this.”
A former fellow captive of Sotloff told Yediot Aharonoth that while in captivity, Sotloff “kept his Judaism in captivity.” Sotloff reportedly fasted in secret during Yom Kippur and would pray in the direction of Jerusalem, as is customary in Jewish prayers.
The fellow captive told the paper that Sotloff pretended he will ill to avoid eating on Yom Kippur.
“He told them he was ill and didn’t want to eat, even though they brought us eggs that day,” he recounted. “It looked like he was praying in a hidden way towards Jerusalem. He noted what way the Muslims were praying in and changed his direction slightly.”
Reacting to the news of the video, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “If the video is genuine, we are sickened by this brutal act.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the murder and said on Wednesday that he was “outraged” at the beheading of a second US journalist by ISIS. Ban referred to ISIS as “abhorrent” and called upon religious leaders in the Middle East “to stand up for tolerance, mutual respect and non-violence.”
Hours after the release of the video, US President Barack Obama ordered 350 US troops to Baghdad to protect American personnel working in the Iraqi capital.