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BEIRUT (AP) — An Internet video posted online Tuesday purported to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group, which called it retribution for continued U.S. airstrikes in Iraq.
Sotloff, 31, who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, had last been seen in Syrian in August 2013 until he appeared in a video released online last month by the Islamic State group that showed the beheading of fellow American journalist James Foley.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit against the backdrop of an arid Syrian landscape, Sotloff was threatened in that video with death unless the U.S. stopped airstrikes on the group in Iraq.
In the video distributed Tuesday and entitled "A Second Message to America," Sotloff appears in a similar jumpsuit before he was purportedly beheaded by an Islamic State fighter.
The Associated Press could not immediately verify the video's authenticity. The SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S. terrorism watchdog, first reported about the video's existence.
The fighter who beheads Sotloff in the video called it retribution for Obama's continued airstrikes against the group 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 fighter said.
At the end of the video, he threatened to kill a third captive, a Briton, David Cathorne Haines.
Sotloff's mother had pleaded for his release last week in a video directed at the Islamic State group.
Addressing the leader of the Islamic State group by name, Shirley Sotloff said in a video her son was "an innocent journalist" who shouldn't pay for U.S. government actions in the Middle East over which he has no control.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said he wasn't immediately aware of the purported Sotloff video and wasn't in a position to confirm its authenticity.
"This is something that the administration has obviously been watching very carefully," Earnest said. "Our thoughts and prayers first and foremost are with Mr. Sotloff and Mr. Sotloff's family and those who worked with him."
A man who answered a phone listed in the name of Sotloff's sister hung up when called by the AP.
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SITE has transcribed the video, in which Sotloff says he is "paying the price" for U.S. intervention in Iraq, while the same masked fighter who appeared in the video of James Foley stands and states the following:
I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings and [unclear] on Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings. You, Obama, have but to gain from your actions but another American citizen. So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people...
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.
Below is a transcript of Sotloff's statement in the video:
I am Steven Joel Sotloff. I'm sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing before you. And now this time for my message:
Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be for the preservation of American lives and interests, so why is it that I am paying the price of your interference with my life. Am I not an American citizen? You've spent billions of U.S. tax payers dollars and we've lost thousands of our troops in our previous fighting against the Islamic State, so where is the people's interest in reigniting this war?
From what little I know about foreign policy, I remember a time you could not win an election without promising to bring our troops back home from Iraq and Afghanistan and to close down Guantanamo. Here you are now, Obama, nearing the end of your term, and having achieving none of the above, and deceivingly marching us the American people in the blazing fire.