News that another US journalist has been brutally murdered by the Islamic State (IS) militants has shocked not just journalists around the world, but has also outraged the global community.
IS has released another gruesome video that purports to show the beheading of Steven Sotloff, a freelance journalist who wrote for Foreign Policy and TIME magazines, among others, who went missing in Syria in August 2013. Another US journalist, James Foley, was killed in the same way two weeks ago. The man, who speaks with a British accent, is thought to have committed both murders. He said a British hostage would be the next to die unless President Barack Obama stopped air strikes on the IS.
Obama condemned the murder of Sotloff, saying the US would not be intimidated and nor would it forget what had been done to Sotloff and Foley. He said US reach was “long, and justice will be served”.
The masked killer told Obama, “So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of British prime minister David Cameron called the act an “‘absolutely disgusting, despicable’ murder “. The British government is considering extraordinary measures to combat “jihadis” living in the United Kingdom to relocate, for airlines to be compelled to hand over passenger lists and seize the passports of Britons trying to leave the country to fight for the IS.
Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) executive director, Joel Simon, said journalists know covering conflict is inherently dangerous and that they could be killed in crossfire. “But being butchered in front of camera simply for being a reporter is pure barbarism,” he said. “We condemn in the strongest terms possible the murder of journalist Steven Sotloff. He, like James Foley, went to Syria to tell a story. They were civilians, not representatives of any government. Their murders are war crimes and those who committed them must be brought to justice swiftly.”
A number of journalists have been killed in Syria, regarded as the most dangerous country in the world for media. The CPJ reports that at least 70 other journalists have been killed covering the conflict there, and estimates that approximately 20 journalists are currently missing in Syria, the majority of whom are Syrian and are believed to be being held by IS.
The World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers (WAN-Ifra) Larry Killian said the association was “appalled” by Sotloff’s “gruesome murder”.
“Even among the growing number of attacks on journalists globally, the killings of Mr Foley and Mr Sotloff are particularly chilling. The international community must do its utmost to ensure that journalism and journalists are respected and the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice,” Kilman said. “Courageous men and women should not be attacked and killed merely for doing their jobs.”
TIME magazine, for whom Sotloff reported, said it was shocked and deeply saddened by reports of his death. “Steven was a valued contributor to TIME and other news organisations, and he gave his life so readers would have access to information from some of the most dangerous places in the world. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family,” said editor Nancy Gibbs in a statement.
Reuters reported that Sotloff was remembered by colleagues as “a generous man fascinated by journalism and the changes gripping the Middle East, and determined to tell stories from the perspective of average people, not army movements on the battlefield”.
The agency reported Sotloff writing in an email that no one wanted to freelance in Syria due to kidnappings. “It’s pretty bad here. I’ve been sleeping at a front, hiding from tanks the past few nights, drinking rain water.” He returned in August last year, and was kidnapped shortly afterwards.
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