Reporters Without Borders is deeply shocked by yesterday's release of a video showing the jihadi militant group Islamic State beheading US journalist Steven Sotloff, using the same barbaric procedure as it did with fellow US journalist James Foley in a video released exactly two weeks before.
A 31-year-old freelancer, Sotloff had been a hostage since August 2013, when he was kidnapped in northern Syria.
Posted online and entitled “A second message to America,” the video showed a masked man condemning the US intervention in Syria and Iraq before beheading Sotloff. He also threatened a British hostage identified as David Haines and warned governments to back away from “this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State."
It is impossible to say with certainty at this point that it was the same masked man as in the video of Foley’s execution, but he had the same British accent and the execution was carried out in exactly the same manner against the same desert background, and with the same threats against the Obama administration.
“I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State,” the masked man said.
“This is an outrageous, disgusting and demented war crime that should be tried before an international court,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire. “Not content with developing a hostage industry, Islamic State is taking its horror even further by staging the beheading of journalists in series.”
Sotloff grew up in Miami and majored in journalism at the University of Central Florida. He specialized in covering the Arab world and had reported for many US publications including Time, Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy and World Affairs.
His mother appealed last week to Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliph, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “You, the caliph, can grant amnesty,” she said in a video. Reporters Without Borders offers its heart-felt condolences to the Sotloff family.