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Posted by on Sep 3, 2014 in Breaking News, Terrorism | 15 comments

(Updated with Reactions) Reports that ISIS Has Killed Steven Sotloff

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Update III:

I just love Joe Biden.

I love his unpretentious, honest leadership, his straightforwardness, his sense of humor, his BIG smile and quick laugh.

He is plain-spoken, he means what he says and says what he means, he is a regular guy– what you see is what you get

But most of all, I like the fire in his belly when that is called for.

And today, after the second barbarous murder of an American by the ISIL psychopaths, Joe once more said what he meant and meant what he said in a fiery response to the criminals:

[W]hen people harm Americans, we don’t retreat. We don’t forget…We take care of those who are grieving, and when that’s finished, they should know, we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice. Because hell is where they will reside. Hell is where they will reside.

Thank you, Mr. Vice President. America needed to hear that.

Update II:

As the U.S. government confirmed today that a video showing the brutal execution of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by ISIL militants is authentic, President Obama vowed the U.S. will bring to justice those who were responsible for the beheadings.

Speaking in Estonia,the President said: “We will not be intimidated…[ISIL’s] horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists. And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served…Whatever these murderers think they’ll achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed.”

After expressing his sorrow for the family and praising the drive and courage of Sotloff, Secretary of State Kerry said in part:

Barbarity, sadly, isn’t new to our world. Neither is evil. We’ve taken the fight to it before, and we’re taking the fight to it today. When terrorists anywhere around the world have murdered our citizens, the United States held them accountable, no matter how long it took. And those who have murdered James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Syria should know that the United States will hold them accountable too, no matter how long it takes.

Update I:

Neither the White House nor the State Department have yet authenticated the video purporting to show the beheading of journalist Steven Sotloff.

However, at the State Department Daily Press briefing this afternoon, spokesperson Jen Psaki answered a reporter’s question on the matter as follows:

Let me share with you everything I can at this point in time. We’ve seen reports of a video that purports to be the murder of U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff by ISIL. The intelligence community will work as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If the video is genuine, we are sickened by this brutal act taking the life of another innocent American citizen. Our hearts go out to the Sotloff family and we will provide more information as it becomes available.
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I don’t have additional information at this point, but go ahead.

Reporters did go ahead and ask additional questions. Scroll to the bottom if interested.

Original Post:

Several news agencies are reporting the tragic news that Steven Sotloff, an American journalist held by ISIS, has been murdered.

BBC:

An Islamic State video has appeared which purports to show the beheading of Steven Sotloff, a US journalist being held hostage by the militants.
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White House spokesman Josh Earnest said US officials were checking the reports.
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Mr Sotloff disappeared in Syria in 2013. He appeared at the end of a video last month showing fellow US journalist James Foley being killed.
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After Mr Foley’s death, Mr Sotloff’s mother appealed to IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to save her son’s life.

ABC News:

A new video appears to show the execution of Steven Sotloff, the second American killed by a self-professed member of the Islamist terror group ISIS.
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In the video, which appeared online today, Sotloff addresses the camera, saying, “I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing.”
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“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 says calmly as the black clad militant holds a knife casually at his side.
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The video then cuts to the militant who makes a statement saying that as long as U.S. missiles “continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
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Sotloff was seen last month in a very similar video that appeared to show the execution of American journalist James Foley.

Our deepest condolences to Mr. Sotloff’s family and may his murderers be brought to justice.

~.~

Additional questions and answers at today’s State Department Briefing:

QUESTION: Well, I just wanted to ask you if you’ve determined the number of Americans that might be held by ISIL.
MS. PSAKI: Well, Said, as you know, we don’t get into specific numbers for the safety and security of individuals. We’ve said a few. That continues to be accurate.
QUESTION: Jen, what is your last information regarding Sotloff? Was he alive as of last week? What was your last information from him?
MS. PSAKI: I just don’t have any other additional information to provide. Certainly understand the interest.
QUESTION: Okay. So the authentication process has begun?
MS. PSAKI: Well, this is obviously a process that would have to be undergone by our intelligence community. I don’t know if it’s officially started. But obviously, in any case, that would be happening rapidly.
QUESTION: Does the Obama Administration consider this an act of war?
MS. PSAKI: We certainly – I’m not going to put new labels on it, James. I would say we certainly consider this act, this reported act, the act of the killing of James Foley, as a horrific terrorist act that we certainly have – has helped – has not helped to, I should say – has been one of the motivating factors in the effort to undergo the creation of international coalition to address this threat.
QUESTION: So now we have on the books two American journalists beheaded by this group. Is there any doubt on your part or the part of this Administration that, in fact, the United States is at war with ISIS?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think I want to be very careful here, just that we have not confirmed through the proper processes. And I just need to restate that as a U.S. – speaking on behalf of the U.S. Government. I know that wasn’t your intention.
I’m not going to, again, put new labels on it. I think it’s clear that we are concerned about the threat of ISIL to Western interests, to interests in the region. That’s why the Secretary, the President, Secretary Hagel are all going to be working every contact they have to continue to build a coalition to address this threat.
QUESTION: Will this event make any difference in our planning vis-a-vis airstrikes against ISIS?
MS. PSAKI: There are a range of factors, as you know, that are taken into account, including the interests of the United States. And I’m not going to read out further what the President will be looking at, but certainly, we look at a range of factors as those decisions are made.
QUESTION: — one more way. A lot of Americans sit at home and they see Americans who are not even combatants but who are journalists being beheaded by this group overseas. And from a sort of common sense point of view, the average American will say to himself, “This group is at war with us. Why does our President or our Secretary of State not recognize that and say, ‘Indeed, we are at war with this group and we will destroy them’”?
MS. PSAKI: Well, I think first of all, James, our actions speak for our commitment to this. And this President has authorized more than a hundred strikes in Iraq, as has been confirmed by the Department of Defense. There are a range of reasons, but part of it is to take on the threat of ISIL. Part of the reason we are leading the effort – and the United States has done more than any country in the world, whether it’s humanitarian assistance or other military efforts to take on this threat in Iraq.
So I think any American sitting at home should sit and look at the actions that we’re taking. I don’t think it’s a useful exercise to go back and forth about new terms. What’s important is what we’re doing about it, and the President’s authorization, what the Secretary will be doing over the next couple of weeks, is action in that regard.
QUESTION: But Jen, I thought that the President’s authorization, what he authorized the airstrikes for, was not necessarily to take on the threat by ISIL except as it relates to the humanitarian situation of the minority communities like the Yezidis and these others – the Turkmen community – and then to protect U.S. military and diplomatic personnel and facilities, not – you would argue that that goes to also taking on the threat of ISIL —
MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think it’s —
QUESTION: — the broader threat that they pose to Americans but also – American civilians, but Brits, but other nationalities?
MS. PSAKI: Well, one, that’s only part of what our effort is. But speaking to that particular point, obviously, impacting the capabilities of ISIL in Iraq because of the concern we have about humanitarian issues, whether it’s Amirli or the communities around Erbil, as well as the national interests of the United States, including the safety and security of American citizens, there certainly is an impact on the capabilities when we take those actions.
QUESTION: So the argument that you’re taking on the threat of ISIL with the President’s authorization for those two specific things, humanitarian and protection of U.S. personnel facilities, would apply only to Iraq at the moment, correct?
MS. PSAKI: Correct.
QUESTION: Not to Syria as well?
MS. PSAKI: That’s correct, Matt. However, that’s only part of our effort, and obviously, ISIL and the threat it poses to the region has a trickle-out effect from Iraq, from Syria, from other places. But the second piece, which is also vitally important, is our effort to build an international coalition. A number of countries have taken steps – humanitarian steps, steps to provide military assistance in Iraq – as a result, and we’re going to continue those discussions.

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