Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) release video apparently showing beheading of US hostage, Steven Sotloff

An IS militant with a man purported to be US journalist Steven Sotloff, in a still from the group's video

An IS militant with a man purported to be US journalist Steven Sotloff, in a still from the group’s video
By Barney Henderson, The Telegraph

QuoteWhy does the Islamic State engage in beheadings and crucifixions? Of course, the practice of beheading is invoked in the Koran, but only the most extreme Islamic militants carry it out in the modern day.

We might identify three parts to this. First, psychological warfare is a key part of the Islamic State’s military strategy. Even where outnumbered, as they were in Mosul in June, the Islamic State’s fighters have used their reputation for terror to dissuade Iraqi forces from ever seeking battle. Which poorly paid soldier wishes to risk decapitation, impalement, or amputation for the sake of a distant, crumbling government? Fear is a uniquely effective weapon.

19.28 The National Journal has published a tribute to Sotloff, detailing some of his work as a journalist in the Middle East.

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19.08 US state department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says that if the video is genuine, “we are sickened”.

18.54 Steven Sotloff’s apparent murder at the hands of the Islamic State came in spite of an emotional plea by his mother for the jihadist group’s leader to spare his life.

Less than a week ago, Shirley Sotloff posted a video begging for Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of the IS, to show mercy towards her son.

“My son Steven is in your hands,” Mrs Sotloff said in the short video. ““You, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you please to release my child. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life.”

18.50 Rob Crilly reports:

QuoteThere was speculation when the Foley video was released that Sotlof was murdered at the same time. However, Eliot Higgins, tweeting as Brown_Moses, who identified the site of the Foley killing using open source information, suspects the two were killed in different locations:

18.40 White House spokesman, Josh Earnest, told reporters in a briefing that the video would be analysed very carefully, adding that the administration’s thoughts and prayers were with Sotloff’s family:

QuoteOur thoughts and prayers, first and foremost, are with Mr Sotloff’s family and those who work with him. The United States, as you know, has dedicated significant time and resources to trying to rescue Mr Sotloff. I’m not in a position to confirm the authenticity of that video or the reports at this point obviously since I just walked out here but it appears the video that has been released is something that will be analysed very carefully by the US government and our intelligence officials to determine its authenticity.

18.37 David Cameron has said: “I’ve just seen the news. It’s an absolutely disgusting and despicable act and I will be making a statement later.”

18.31 A masked figure in the video also issued a threat against a British hostage.

18.26 The White House said that it had yet to authenticate the footage, which SITE said showed 31-year-old freelance writer Steven Sotloff on his knees beside an IS fighter with a knife.

Steven Sotloff before his kidnapping

18.25 The video warns governments to back off “this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State”.

Sotloff, 31, disappeared while reporting in Syria in August 2013. His apparent kidnap was not widely reported until he appeared on a video released last month by the Isil.

In the footage a masked militant beheads US reporter James Foley then parades Mr Sotloff, warning he will meet the same fate unless US President Barack Obama ends air strikes against the group in Iraq.

18.20 Hello, this is our live coverage of the release by Islamic State of a second video, apparently showing the beheading of American journalist Steve Sotloff

American hostage Steven Sotloff has reportedly been executed by jihadist terrorists. There was no immediate confirmation of the video.