3 Sep 2014

President Obama: Islamic State a threat to entire region

The US will not be intimidated by Islamic State militants, President Obama says, after the White House confirmed that a video showing the beheading of a US journalist was authentic.

Mr Obama told reporters that the objective was to downgrade the threat of IS, adding however, that it would “take time” to roll back IS gains. He said he was “repulsed” by the “barbarism” of the jihadists in the killing of US journalist Steven Sotloff and that justice would be served.

He urged for regional and international communities to work together and continue their efforts against the group.

In the disturbing footage, Mr Sotloff – a freelancer for Time magazine among other publications – is pictured in an orange jump suit against a desert backdrop.

He reads out a purported “message to America” in which he tells US President Barack Obama: “I am paying the price of your interference with my life”.

The masked killer in the video also issued a threat against a hostage he said was British and said: “We take this opportunity to warn those governments that have entered this evil alliance with America against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone.”

He added: “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.”


US National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden later confirmed that the video was authentic.

“The US Intelligence Community has analysed the recently released video showing US citizen Steven Sotloff and has reached the judgment that it is authentic,” Hayden said in a statement.

British hostage

The foreign secretary said the government was looking at every possible option to protect a British hostage, confirmed to be held by IS militants. Philip Hammond said airstrikes were not going to be ruled out against the extremists.

“It doesn’t make any difference at all to our strategic planning,” Mr Hammond told reporters. “If we judge that air strikes could be beneficial (…) then we will certainly consider them. But we have made no decision to do so at the moment.”

He said a masked British-accented jihadist who appeared in the footage also seemed to be the same man who apparently carried out the killing of US reporter James Foley two weeks ago.

Mr Hammond spoke of a failed attempt to rescue the British hostage and said a preliminary government analysis showed the video released late on Tuesday of an American journalist Mr Sotloff being beheaded was genuine.

‘No distinctions’

The prime minister expressed disgust at the extremists’ “barbarism” after footage showing Mr Sotloff’s murder was released. Downing Street confirmed that it was aware that IS had a British hostage.

Mr Cameron said in a statement: “My thoughts and prayers are with Mr Sotloff’s family and friends as they deal with this appalling and tragic situation.

This is a despicable and barbaric murder. David Cameron

“As I have said consistently over the last few weeks, (IS) terrorists speak for no religion.

“They threaten Syrians, Iraqis, Americans and British people alike and make no distinction between Muslims, Christians or any other faith.

“We have already been working hard to keep British people safe and we will continue to do all we can to protect our country and our people from these barbaric terrorists”.

Mr Cameron has warned in recent days that the West faces a “generational” struggle against the extremist ideology of IS, suggesting it is a more potent force than al Qaida.

Labour leader Ed Miliband said:

In a brief statement, a spokesman for Mr Sotloff’s family said they “know of this horrific tragedy and are grieving privately”.

The journalist was seized in Syria in August 2013 and had not been seen until he appeared in the video of Mr Foley’s killing released by IS on August 20.