NBC News reports: The Islamic militant group ISIS beheaded Steven Joel Sotloff, an American freelance journalist who was abducted a year ago in Syria, in a video made public Tuesday by a jihadist monitoring organization.
The monitoring organization, SITE Intel Group, announced on Twitter that Sotloff had been beheaded. It said that ISIS had also threatened to execute a British captive, David Cawthorne Haines.
The video, titled “A Second Message to America,” opens with a clip of President Barack Obama speaking after ISIS beheaded another American journalist, James Foley, last month. Obama vowed in those remarks to be “relentless” when Americans are harmed.
The video then shows Sotloff, wearing an orange jump suit and kneeling, in a sparse desert landscape, next to a black-clad ISIS fighter — a replica of the conditions in the video in which Foley was beheaded.
Speaking to the camera, Sotloff questions U.S. intervention in the Middle East and blames Obama for “marching us, the American people, into a blazing fire.”
The ISIS fighter then blames Obama for an “arrogant foreign policy towards Islamic State” and for refusing to heed ISIS’s warnings and end military strikes.
Those Middle-East watchers in the West who suffer from the affliction of seeing America at the center of all things, will be inclined to persist in their interpretation that ISIS is trying to goad the U.S. into stronger military intervention in Iraq.
This strikes me as a gross misreading of events — and it misrepresents the timeline.
U.S. airstrikes in Iraq started before James Foley was murdered. At that time, Foley’s killer — while holding Sotloff — warned: “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”
The airstrikes continued and ISIS has now carried through on that threat.
And as ISIS now says that Obama is marching the American people into a blazing fire, the jihadists are again saying: back off.
Much as ISIS’s fighters and jihadists in general are widely perceived as being driven by a desire for martyrdom, it is ISIS’s success in laying the foundations for its own state and in the swift expansion of this state, that is the driving force behind the movement’s growth.
ISIS wants to be seen as an unstoppable force and the battles it loses and the retreats it is forced to make, will weaken that image.
If there’s a credible alternative to using military force against ISIS, I have yet to see it.