Marco Kostaras, Contributing Writer
The terrorist group known as ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has released a video entitled “A Second Message to America” depicting the decapitation of journalist Steven Sotloff as a response to America’s continued airstrikes in Iraq. This comes a mere two weeks after ISIS’ first decapitation of journalist Jim Foley as a warning to stop American intervention in Iraq and the Middle East. In the video Sotloff is seen kneeling on the ground in an orange jumpsuit with a knife to his throat. He begins to read a scripted speech stating, “Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be for the preservation of American lives and interest. So why is it that I’m having to pay the price of your interference with my life? Am I not an American citizen?”
The masked figure, presumably the executioner who had killed Foley in the previous video declares, “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy toward the Islamic State.” The video then fades as the masked figure begins to slice Sotloff’s throat. As the picture returns, Sotloff’s head is seen being held in his hands, and a new prisoner is seen kneeling next to the executioner who then states “We take this opportunity to warn those governments that have entered this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State to back off and leave our people alone.” The person seen kneeling is presumed to be British security worker and specialist David Cawthorne Haines, whose group was reported abducted and captured in early 2013 in Syria.
In response to these events President Obama has taken a staunch position stating that he and the United States will not be intimidated by the killings of these two journalists. “Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, that our reach is long and that justice will be served,” stated the president during a news conference in Estonia where he was meeting with several international leaders. British Prime Minister David Cameron has also taken a similar position against these killings. In response to the ISIS threat, airstrikes are already underway in Iraq and there have been talks of commencing airstrikes in Syria, specifically the city of Raqqa where it is reported that ISIS has established a base. The plan to take on this terrorist group is a regional strategy that has been called “Degrade and Destroy” by Obama and may take Congressional approval as well as several years to take complete effect.
ISIS, currently led by Islamic militant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was formed in early 2006 after American troops had pulled their forces out of Iraq, taking their intelligence-gathering sources with them. Iraqi security forces, lacking these necessary intelligence-gathering sources, professionally trained soldiers and equipment were unable to keep the pressure on the remaining Al-Qaeda troops, who began to regenerate and reform into what is currently known as ISIS. ISIS used the arrests of various Sunni Islamic political figures as well as the growing rumors of Sunni Islamists being persecuted by the mostly Shia Islam government as a way to bolster their ranks. They have stated their goal is to establish a united Islamic state through the Levant region, mainly Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Cyprus. It is unknown how this terrorist organization will accomplish this goal but one thing remains hauntingly clear: blood and terror mean nothing to them, and they will continue to use these brutal methods to advance their cause.