Second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, killed by Islamic extremists

BY Larisa Epatko  September 2, 2014 at 2:00 PM EDT
American journalist Steven Sotloff, shown here in the black helmet talking to Libyan rebels in June 2011, was reportedly killed by Islamic fighters Tuesday. Photo by Etienne de Malglaive via Getty Images

American journalist Steven Sotloff, shown here in the black helmet talking to Libyan rebels in June 2011, was reportedly killed by Islamic fighters Tuesday. Photo by Etienne de Malglaive via Getty Images

Updated at 5:40 a.m. EDT Wednesday | U.S. authorities have confirmed that an online video showing Islamic State militants killing American journalist Steven Sotloff is authentic.

Caitlin Hayden, National Security Council spokeswoman, issued the following statement Wednesday morning: “The U.S. Intelligence Community has analyzed the recently released video showing U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff and has reached the judgment that it is authentic. We will continue to provide updates as they are available.”

His death follows that of another U.S. reporter, James Foley, by the same militant group.

Sotloff, 31, was kidnapped near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Aug. 4, 2013. He was seen in the video in which Foley was beheaded by an Islamic State fighter. In that video, the fighter said Sotloff would be next if the United States didn’t stop airstrikes targeting the group in Iraq.

Sotloff, who grew up in Miami, freelanced for Time magazine, and like Foley was reporting on the civil war in Syria at the time of his abduction.

Sotloff’s mother Shirley recently made a video, which was broadcast on Al Arabiya, appealing to IS to release her son.

“Since Steven’s capture, I have learned a lot about Islam. I’ve learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others,” she said in the video. “As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over.”

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said at a press briefing Tuesday afternoon that “a few” Americans still might be held by IS, but she did not give a specific number, citing concerns over the individuals’ security.

For several weeks, the U.S. military has been conducting airstrikes around Irbil in northern Iraq to target the militants’ artillery, and to protect villages that IS has cut off from food and water. The U.S. recently began flying surveillance missions over Syria for more possible airstrikes.

We’ll have more on the developments on Tuesday’s PBS NewsHour broadcast.