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Executed Journalist Steven Sotloff Noted for His Hea...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 11:43pm

File photo of American journalist Steven Sotloff (center with black helmet). Etienne de Malglaive via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- ISIS appears to have cruelly executed American journalist Steven Sotloff just one week after his mother pleaded with the group's leader to "be merciful" and spare her son.

Shirley Sotloff's heartbreaking bid for her son's life was ignored and a video was released Tuesday indicating he was the second American journalist to be beheaded by the Islamic militant group, ostensibly in retribution for U.S. planes bombing ISIS fighters in Iraq.

Sotloff's parents have declined any media interviews and have been enduring an agonizing wait after James Foley was executed last month and Sotloff was shown on his knees, wearing an orange jumpsuit and threatened with execution. Their only public words were Shirley Sotloff's video message to ISIS' caliph Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi saying, "I ask you justice be merciful and not [to] punish my son for matters he has no control over. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life.”

[READ MORE: New Video Appears to Show ISIS Execution of Second American Steven Sotloff]

At the time of his capture, Sotloff, 31, had been covering the Middle East for years as a freelance reporter, including stints in Yemen and Egypt. He wrote for Time magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the Daily Caller, Foreign Policy, and most recently for World Affairs journal.

The reporter studied journalism at the University of Central Florida, according to the Orlando Sentinel. His articles online show heartfelt reporting about the brutality of the Syrian war.

His parents live in Miami, and Sotloff's last Tweet, from August 2013, was about the Miami Heat NBA team.

His Twitter feed, which was his major online presence beyond his reported stories, showed a mix of humor and seriousness about his reporting.

Friends of Sotloff and his family had started a White House petition urging the government to do all it can to rescue the freelance reporter.

"Steven Sotloff is an American citizen and reporter with Time magazine who is believed to have gone missing in August of 2013," the petition read. "Today, on August 19, 2014 it was revealed that Steven is a captive of the Islamist terrorist organization ISIS."

"We, the undersigned call upon you, President Obama, to take immediate action to save Steven's life by any means necessary,” it said.

Matthew Van Dyke, a documentary filmmaker, self-described “revolutionary” and friend of Sotloff's, told ABC News that the two last saw each other in Washington, D.C., just a few weeks before Sotloff's disappearance. Van Dyke has reported from the Middle East, and joined the fighting during the Libyan revolution, and was held as a prisoner of war.

"We were talking about his upcoming trip to Syria," Van Dyke said. "I feel horrible for what he's going through, I can't really imagine. I mean I thought I had a tough time in Libya but to be held by ISIS for this long, Steven's been there for a year now and who knows what kind of conditions they're in. It's absolutely horrifying. I can't imagine it."

World Affairs, the journal that had most recently employed Sotloff, described him as "an honest and thoughtful journalist who strives to understand the story from local perspectives and report his findings straightforwardly. He is certainly courageous."

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

Video Appears to Show ISIS Execution of Second Ameri...

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 11:42pm

Obtained by ABC News(NEW YORK) -- A new video appears to show the execution of Steven Sotloff, the second American killed by a self-professed member of the Islamist terror group ISIS.

In the video, which appeared online Tuesday, Sotloff addresses the camera, saying, “I’m sure you know exactly who I am by now and why I am appearing.”

“Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be for preservation of American lives and interests, so why is it that I am paying the price of your interference with my life,” Sotloff says calmly as the black clad militant holds a knife casually at his side.

The video then cuts to the militant who makes a statement saying that as long as U.S. missiles “continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”

Sotloff was seen last month in a very similar video that appeared to show the execution of American journalist James Foley.

Watch more news videos | Latest world news

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

White House Orders 350 More Troops to Iraq

Tuesday, September 2, 2014 11:44pm

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- An additional 350 U.S. troops will go to Iraq to protect U.S. personnel stationed in Baghdad, the White House announced Tuesday.

The State Department had requested extra military personnel for security, and after the Department of Defense reviewed that request and recommended it be granted, President Obama approved the additional forces Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest announced in a statement to reporters.

“The additional forces will not serve a combat role,” Earnest wrote. In Tuesday’s daily press briefing, Earnest again reiterated Obama’s stance that the U.S. will not send combat troops to fight on Iraq.

A U.S. official said the 350 new troops headed to Baghdad are a mix of Marines and Army personnel already serving in the U.S. Central Command’s theater of operations, which stretches from Egypt eastward through the Middle East and Turkey, up to Kazakhstan.

This deployment will bring to 820 the total of U.S. forces responsible for augmenting diplomatic security in Iraq, Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said in a statement to reporters, noting that a total of 405 military personnel will go to Baghdad, allowing 55 currently stationed there to leave Iraq.

While these troops will provide security, Earnest noted that the U.S. will continue helping Iraqi troops fight ISIS. U.S. bombs have continued to fall on ISIS targets in northern Iraq, in support of Kurdish forces fighting ISIS west if Erbil, since Obama authorized the airstrike campaign just over three weeks ago. Last week, the U.S. military expanded its anti-ISIS campaign southward to assist Shiite Turkmen surrounded by ISIS forces in the town of Amirli, and the Pentagon announced another airstrike there over the weekend.

On Thursday, the president will attend a NATO summit in Wales, where he will gather with U.S. allies that have expressed fears about the threat of ISIS, particularly as it has recruited large numbers of fighters from European nations.

“The president will be consulting this week with NATO allies regarding additional actions to take against ISIL and to develop a broad-based international coalition to implement a comprehensive strategy to protect our people and to support our partners in the fight against ISIL,” Earnest wrote, hinting at broader cooperating and potential action.

Obama is also sending top advisers to the region, Earnest announced: Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, and top White House counter-terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco will travel separately to the Middle East “in the near term to build a stronger regional partnership,” Earnest wrote.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


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