NEW YORK TIMES: The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria has beheaded Steven Joel Sotloff, the second American executed by the Islamic militant group, and posted a video of it on the Internet, the SITE Intelligence Group, a research organization that tracks jihadist web postings, said Tuesday. The execution of Mr. Sotloff, 31, came despite pleas from his mother aimed directly at ISIS’s top leader seeking mercy for her son, a freelance journalist who was captured in northern Syria a year ago. Word of Mr. Sotloff’s beheading came two weeks after James Foley, 45, another American journalist, was beheaded by ISIS, which warned that Mr. Sotloff would be the next to die. In the latest video, Mr. Sotloff describes himself as “paying the price” for the Obama administration’s decision to strike ISIS targets in Iraq. The same masked fighter who appeared in the video of Mr. Foley’s beheading also appears beside Mr. Sotloff, asserting, “I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.” The SITE group also said ISIS was threatening a third captive, a Briton it identified as David Cawthorne Haines, as the next beheading victim. At least two other Americans are believed to be held by ISIS. MORE
NEW YORK TIMES: Steven J. Sotloff, a 31-year-old freelance journalist, self-described “stand-up philosopher from Miami,” immersed himself in the tumult of the Middle East for years, repeatedly venturing into some of the most hazardous conflict zones. He reassured friends that he knew the risks as he wrote for publications that included Time magazine, The Christian Science Monitor and World Affairs Journal. The risks caught up with him a year ago when he was abducted in northern Syria as he reported on the civil war that is still convulsing that country, the most dangerous place for journalists, with more than 70 killed and 80 kidnapped since the conflict began. […]
Described by friends as selfless, Mr. Sotloff spent most of his life in Florida except when he attended a boarding high school, Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, N.H., where he apparently developed a penchant for reporting and writing. He coedited the student newspaper, The Kimball Union, graduated in 2002 and attended the University of Central Florida, where he played rugby, worked for the independent student newspaper, Central Florida Future, and expressed deep interest in travel to the Middle East. He left after three years and, soon after, began to pursue journalism full-time.
“The guy lit up a room. He was always such a loyal, caring and good friend to us,” Josh Polsky, who shared a dormitory suite with Mr. Sotloff, said in a telephone interview. “If you needed to rely on anybody for anything he would drop everything on a dime for you or for anyone else.” Emerson Lotzia Jr., another former college roommate, said that Mr. Sotloff was undeterred by the risks of Middle East reporting. “A million people could have told him what he was doing was foolish, it seemed like it to us outsiders looking in, but to him it was what he loved to do and you weren’t going to stop him,” Mr. Lotzia told Central Florida Future on Wednesday. “Steve said it was scary over there. It was dangerous. It wasn’t safe to be over there. He knew it. He kept going back.” MORE