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Islamic State declares beheading of U.S. reporter Steven Sotloff

September 2, 2014 at 6:02 PM EST
A fighter of the Islamic State group carries their flag. Screen grab from PBS NewsHour.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: Islamic State radicals declared today that they have killed a second American hostage in Syria. The announcement came hours after U.S. airstrikes aimed at the head of another major militant group in Somalia. More about that later in the news summary.

But, first, the gruesome new video that purports to show a reporter being beheaded.

For the second time in two weeks, a chilling message preceded the apparent murder of an American journalist, the victim this time, Steven Sotloff, a 31-year-old freelancer for “TIME” and “Foreign Policy” magazines. He went missing in Syria last year.

On the video, a hooded man with a British accent directs a message to President Obama before killing Sotloff.

MAN: I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence at continuing your bombings. You, Obama, have yet again, through your actions, killed yet another American citizen.

JUDY WOODRUFF: The August 19 video that showed the beheading of James Foley also briefly showed Sotloff. The Islamic State warned that he would suffer the same fate as Foley if U.S. airstrikes continued in Iraq. They did, as recently as this weekend, when American planes blasted targets around the Mosul dam and helped relieve the besieged town of Amirli, this as Sotloff’s mother pleaded last week for her son’s release.

SHIRLEY SOTLOFF, Mother of Steven Sotloff: Steven has no control over the actions of the U.S. government. He is an innocent journalist. I have always learned that you, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you to please release my child.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Today, a spokesman said the Sotloff family is in shock.

In Washington, President Obama didn’t comment as he left for an overseas trip. But the State Department condemned the killing.

JEN PSAKI, State Department Spokeswoman: 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