Chilling message of the latest IS murder video
Two weeks since the 19 August video showing the murder of James Foley, another Islamic State video shows what are believed to be the last moments of Steven Sotloff – and ends with a threat to the life of a British hostage.
It is possible that Mr Sotloff was murdered at the same location as Mr Foley, though perhaps unlikely given the time references the new video contains.
The voice of the masked man in the video refers to events which date the soundtrack to very recently – possibly more recently than the pictures. “I’m back,” says the voice, “because of your insistence on continuing your bombings at Amerli and on Mosul dam.”
Murdered US journalist Steven Sotloff, photographed in 2011
It was only last week that President Obama authorised air strikes on Amerli, and the siege of the town only ended on Monday, allowing Shia miliatmen, Kurdish fighters and Iraqi army forces to enter it.
So the timing of the video’s release is not coincidental. The chilling implication is that the clock could be ticking on the lives of a whole succession of western hostages, if US air strikes continue.
We are also just a day away from the Nato summit in Wales, the biggest gathering of world leaders the UK has ever hosted. Barack Obama’s White House made it clear last week that Wales would provide the forum for America’s attempts to build a united response to Islamic State terror.
The choice for David Cameron is how to respond: whether to continue with humanitarian air drops to besieged Iraqi communities as and when required; or whether to authorise further military involvement, deploying special forces, Chinook helicopters or Tornado jets already stationed in the region.
But it seems that even if the UK does not join in air strikes, the life of a British hostage is now at risk anyway, simply by means of “guilt through association” with America. After all, these are the last words heard in the video: “We take this opportunity to warn those governments that enter this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone.”
Follow @jrug on Twitter