According to reports, U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff has been killed by fighters with the Islamic State after a video purporting to show his beheading death was released and flagged on Tuesday by the SITE Intelligence Group, a research group that tracks jihadist web postings.
Sotloff, 31, a freelance journalist, was kidnapped in Syria in August 2013.
Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, state department spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters that the U.S. government has not confirmed the authenticity of the video but said that the intelligence community was working as quickly as possible to confirm its contents.
Sotloff's alleged killing comes less than two weeks after journalist James Foley was killed by Islamic State (also known as ISIS) fighters—an action which was made public through the release of a similar video.
The New York Times reports:
In the latest video, Mr. Sotloff describes himself as “paying the price” for the Obama administration’s decision to strike ISIS targets in Iraq. The same masked fighter who appeared in the video of Mr. Foley’s beheading also appears beside Mr. Sotloff, asserting, “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.”
The SITE group also said ISIS was threatening a third captive, a Briton it identified as David Cawthorne Haines, as the next beheading victim.
At least two other Americans are believed to be held by ISIS.
Over the weekend, the U.S. military continued to conduct air strikes against the group in Iraq as part of an international "humanitarian" mission.
During the briefing, Psaki noted that the killing of Foley has "helped to motivate the creation of international coalition" to "address this threat." U.S. officials have pivoted on the atrocities committed by individuals claiming membership to ISIS to push for more military intervention in Iraq and Syria.
However, those opposed to a military response continue to remind the public that it was such U.S. intervention—including the 2003 invasion of Iraq that dramatically destabilized the region—that helped create the armed and brutal militia group in the first place.