2nd Syria beheading raises stakes for US

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2nd Syria beheading raises stakes for US
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Rabbi Chaim Lipskier (L) and University of Central Florida students attend a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students hold candles during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Rabbi Chaim Lipskier (L) speachs during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students Melissa Catalanotto (L) , President of the UCF Society of Professional Journalists attends a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students attends a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Rabbi Chaim Lipskier (L) speachs during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students Melissa Catalanotto (L) , President of the UCF Society of Professional Journalists attends a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students Jonell Gregor and Maleah McLean hold candles during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida student Jessica Gottsleben (R), Senior Broadcast Journalism attends a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Rabbi Chaim Lipskier (L) speachs during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students hold candles during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Rabbi Chaim Lipskier (L) speachs during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students attends a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida student Gretzel Baines holds a candle during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students Melissa Catalanotto (L) , President of the UCF Society of Professional Journalists and Jessica Gottsleben (R), Senior Broadcast Journalist hold candles during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students Alastair Baines and Johanna Hauck hold candles during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Syrian residents in Orlando, Florida Hasan Hayri (L), Bushra Kalani (C) and Sarah Nyrbeah attend a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students Shannon Payne and Jill Dutmers hold candles during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. ( (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: Syrian residents in Orlando, Florida Hasan Hayri (L), Bushra Kalani (C) and Sarah Nyrbeah attend a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students hold candles during a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
ORLANDO, FL - SEPTEMBER 03: University of Central Florida students attends a candle light vigil held for journalist Stephen Sotloff on September 3, 2014 at the University of Central Florida in Orlando, Florida. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Photo by Gerardo Mora/Getty Images)
Students and supporters place candles at the edge of a wall surrounding a pond as they take part in a candle light vigil at the University of Central Florida, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Orlando, Fla., to honor Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist to be beheaded by Islamic State militants in two weeks. Sotloff attended University of Central Florida between 2002 and 2004. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Students and supporters take part in a candle light vigil at the University of Central Florida, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Orlando, Fla., to honor Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist to be beheaded by Islamic State militants in two weeks. Sotloff attended University of Central Florida between 2002 and 2004. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Students and supporters take part in a candle light vigil at the University of Central Florida, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Orlando, Fla., to honor Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist to be beheaded by the Islamic State group in two weeks. Sotloff attended University of Central Florida between 2002 and 2004. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Students and supporters take part in a candle light vigil at the University of Central Florida, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Orlando, Fla., to honor Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist to be beheaded by the Islamic State group in two weeks. Sotloff attended University of Central Florida between 2002 and 2004. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Julian Lang, left, and Andrea Henriquez join students and supporters in a candle light vigil at the University of Central Florida, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Orlando, Fla., to honor Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist to be beheaded by the Islamic State group in two weeks. Sotloff attended University of Central Florida between 2002 and 2004. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks about the militant group al-Shabab in Somalia, during his daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Earnest also spoke about reports that a video on the internet that purports to show beheading of US reporter Steven Sotloff by Islamic State group. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
MISRATA, LIBYA - JUNE 02: In this handout image made available by the photographer American journalist Steven Sotloff (Center with black helmet) talks to Libyan rebels on the Al Dafniya front line, 25 km west of Misrata on June 02, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013 near Aleppo, Syria and was recently shown on a jihadist video in which fellow US journalist James Foley was executed. In the video the militant form the Islamic State (IS) threatens to kill Sotloff next if the US continues its aerial campaign against the insurgency. (Photo by Etienne de Malglaive via Getty Images)
Chris Nault, a friend of slain journalist Steven Stoloff speaks during a ceremony and candle light vigil at the University of Central Florida, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Orlando, Fla., to honor Sotloff, the second American journalist to be beheaded by the Islamic State militant group in two weeks. Sotloff attended University of Central Florida between 2002 and 2004. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
An unidentified woman walks towards the home of the family of journalist Steven Sotloff, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 in Pinecrest, Fla. An Internet video posted online Tuesday purported to show the beheading by the Islamic State group of Sotloff, who went missing in Syria last year. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Media gather outside the home of Steven Sotloff's parents in Pinecrest, Fla., on Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014. Sotloff, a journalist taken captive in Syria, was murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in a video released Tuesday. (Patrick Farrell/Miami Herald/MCT via Getty Images)
Rabbi Chaim Lipskier makes remarks to students and supporters taking part in a candle light vigil at the University of Central Florida, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014, in Orlando, Fla., to honor Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist to be beheaded by the Islamic State group in two weeks. Sotloff attended University of Central Florida between 2002 and 2004. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
FILE - In this file still image from an undated video released by Islamic State militants on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, purports to show journalist Steven Sotloff being held by the militant group. Islamic State militants called American journalist James Foley’s gruesome videotaped beheading revenge for U.S. airstrikes against the group, and they still hold at least three other Americans hostage, including Sotloff. (AP Photo, File)
MISRATA, LIBYA - JUNE 02: In this handout image made available by the photographer American journalist Steven Sotloff (Center with black helmet) talks to Libyan rebels on the Al Dafniya front line, 25 km west of Misrata on June 02, 2011 in Misrata, Libya. Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013 near Aleppo, Syria and was recently shown on a jihadist video in which fellow US journalist James Foley was executed. In the video the militant form the Islamic State (IS) threatens to kill Sotloff next if the US continues its aerial campaign against the insurgency. (Photo by Etienne de Malglaive via Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama comments about U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff, killed by Islamic State militants, during a joint news conference with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at the Bank of Estonia in Tallinn, Estonia, Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. Obama is in Estonia for a one day visit where he will meet with Baltic State leaders before heading to the NATO Summit in Wales. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
CORRECTS DATELINE TO KITTERY, MAINE - Vice President Joe Biden speaks about the killing of Steven Sotloff while visiting the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Miane. Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2014. Biden said America will follow the terrorists who posted videos showing the beheading of two journalists "to the gates of hell." (AP Photo/Winslow Townson)
Television journalists stand across from the home of the family of journalist Steven Sotloff, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 in Pinecrest, Fla. An Internet video posted online Tuesday purported to show the beheading by the Islamic State group of Sotloff, who went missing in Syria last year. In a two-sentence statement Tuesday, family spokesman Barak Barfi said Sotloff's family, quote, "knows of this horrific tragedy and is grieving privately." (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
An unidentified man waits to enter the home of the family of journalist Steven Sotloff, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 in Pinecrest, Fla. An Internet video posted online Tuesday purported to show the beheading by the Islamic State group of Sotloff, who went missing in Syria last year. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
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BEIRUT (AP) -- Islamic State extremists have released a video purportedly showing the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, and warned President Barack Obama that continuing airstrikes against the group in Iraq will be met with the killing of more Western captives.

The footage - depicting what the U.S. called a sickening act of brutality - was posted late Tuesday, two weeks after the release of video showing the killing of James Foley and just days after Sotloff's mother pleaded for his life.

Barak Barfi, a spokesman for the family, said the Sotloffs had seen the video but that authorities have not established its authenticity. "The family knows of this horrific tragedy and is grieving privately. There will be no public comment from the family during this difficult time," Barfi said.

Sotloff, a 31-year-old Miami-area native who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, vanished in Syria in August 2013 and was not seen again until he appeared in a video released last month that showed Foley's beheading. Dressed in an orange jumpsuit against an arid Syrian landscape, Sotloff was threatened in that video with death unless the U.S. stopped airstrikes on the Islamic State.

In the video distributed Tuesday and titled "A Second Message to America," Sotloff appears in a similar jumpsuit before he is apparently beheaded by a fighter with the Islamic State, the extremist group that has conquered wide swaths of territory across Syria and Iraq and declared itself a caliphate.

In the video, the organization threatens to kill another hostage, this one identified as a British citizen.

Shirley Sotloff Pleads with Islamic State Leader to Release Son

Britain and France called the killing "barbaric." British Prime Minister David Cameron said in a statement that he would chair an emergency response meeting with his Cabinet on Wednesday to review the latest developments.

In Washington, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said U.S. intelligence analysts will work as quickly as possible to determine if the video is authentic.

"If the video is genuine, we are sickened by this brutal act, taking the life of another innocent American citizen," Psaki said. "Our hearts go out to the Sotloff family."

Psaki said it is believed that "a few" Americans are still being held by the Islamic State group. Psaki would not give any specifics, but one is a 26-year-old woman kidnapped while doing humanitarian aid work in Syria, according to a family representative who asked that the hostage not be identified out of fear for her safety.

The fighter who apparently beheads Sotloff in the video calls it retribution for Obama's continued airstrikes against the group.

"I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy toward the Islamic State ... despite our serious warnings," the fighter says. "So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people."

The killer specifically mentions the recent U.S. airstrikes around the Mosul dam and the beleaguered Iraqi town of Amirli, making it unlikely that Sotloff was killed at the same time as Foley, as some analysts had speculated.

Over the weekend, Iraqi government forces with help from U.S. airstrikes broke the Islamic State group's two-month siege of Amirli, a town where some 15,000 Shiite Turkmens had been stranded.

In a statement Tuesday evening from U.S. Central Command, military officials said an airstrike conducted Monday against Islamic State militants near the Mosul Dam damaged or destroyed 16 armed vehicles.

The SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S. terrorism watchdog, first reported the video's existence.

As the Islamic State group has moved to expand its proto-state over the past year, it has frequently published graphic photos and gruesome videos of bombings, beheadings and mass killings.

Last week, Sotloff's mother, Shirley Sotloff, pleaded with his captors for mercy, saying in a video that her son was "an innocent journalist" and "an honorable man" who "has always tried to help the weak."

Sotloff grew up in the Miami area, and graduated from Kimball Union Academy, a prep school in New Hampshire.

As a student at Kimball, Sotloff "developed a passion for reporting and writing, a gift that he shared with people around the world, and this unthinkable act of terror has taken him from us far too soon," New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement.

Sotloff then attended the University of Central Florida, which said he majored in journalism from 2002 to 2004 but apparently left without graduating.

Just how Sotloff made his way from Florida to Middle East hotspots is not clear. He published articles from Syria, Egypt and Libya in a variety of publications. Several focus on the plight of ordinary people in war-torn places.

In a statement, Foreign Policy magazine called him a "brave and talented journalist" whose reporting "showed a deep concern for the civilians caught in the middle of a brutal war."

Time Editor Nancy Gibbs said Sotloff "gave his life so readers would have access to information from some of the most dangerous places in the world."

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Rep. Ed Royce, a California Republican, said the new video demonstrates the Islamic State group's "barbarity" and said the U.S. and allies need to step up military action against it.

At Sotloff's parents' home in Pinecrest, Florida., two police vehicles blocked the driveway Tuesday, and officers advised journalists to stay away. Friends of the family could be seen coming and going.

"Everyone's been concerned. Everyone is grieving," neighbor Pepe Cazas said. "It's terrible. I've been praying for him."

Journalist Steven Sotloff Beheaded by Islamic State Militants

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