UPDATED, Wednesday 3:42 a.m.: The U.S. Government has determined that the video showing Steven Sotloff being beheaded is authentic.
“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,” said National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden in a statement Wednesday. “We will continue to provide updates as they are available.”
A new video released by Islamic militants on Tuesday appears to show American journalist Steven Sotloff being beheaded.
The video is titled “A Second Message to America” and shows Sotloff in an orange jumpsuit kneeling in a desert in front of a militant dressed all in black. “I am Steven Joel Sotloff,” the journalist says in the video. “I am sure that by now you know exactly who I am and why I am appearing before you.”
The militants blamed his death on United States policies in the Middle East and in particular, U.S. airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq.
“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State … despite our serious warnings,” the militant who beheads Sotloff says in the new video. “Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”
The U.S. government has not independently verified the video.
“We have seen a video that purports to be the murder of U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL),” says Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokesperson. “The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available.”
Sotloff was kidnapped in Syria by the Islamic State (ISIS) in 2013. He appeared in last month’s video in which fellow American journalist James Foley was beheaded by the group.
In the first video, Sotloff’s life was threatened by an armed militant, saying his life hung in the balance, depending on President Obama’s next move.
Like Sotloff in Foley’s video, the life of a third hostage is threatened after Sotloff’s beheading. The new man is identified as British citizen David Cawthorne Haines. According to the Washington Post, Haines is an aid worker who was abducted in March 2013 near the Atmeh refugee camp, located by the Turkish border in the northern Syrian province of Idlib. Aid workers have been working to secure his release.
Sotloff’s mother had pleaded with ISIS for her son’s release last week. “I am sending this message to you, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, the caliph of the Islamic State. I am Shirley Sotloff. My son Steven is in your hands,” she said in a video directly addressing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS. “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.”
According to multiple media reports, ISIS is holding at least one more American hostage, a female aid worker whose family has asked that her name not be released for safety reasons. CBS News previously reported ISIS was demanding $6.6 million for her release.
The National Security Council declined to comment on specific hostages and would only confirm ISIS is holding a small number of Americans.