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IS video purports to show beheading of second US journalist

Etienne de Malgaive, AFP photo handout | American journalist Steven Sotloff (pictured centre) reporting in Libya in 2011

A video posted online Tuesday purported to show the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State group (IS), which described it as retribution for continued US airstrikes in Iraq.

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Sotloff, who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, had last been seen in Syria in August, 2013 until he appeared in a video released online last month by the Islamic State group that showed the beheading of fellow American journalist James Foley.

Dressed in an orange jumpsuit against the backdrop of an arid Syrian landscape, Sotloff was threatened in that video with death unless the US stopped airstrikes on the group in Iraq.

In the video distributed Tuesday and entitled “A Second Message to America,” Sotloff appears in a similar jumpsuit before he was purportedly beheaded by an Islamic State fighter.

The SITE Intelligence Group, a US terrorism watchdog, first reported about the video’s existence.

Unlike Foley’s beheading, which was widely shared on Twitter accounts affiliated with the Islamic State group, the video purporting to show Sotloff’s killing was not immediately posted online, though several jihadi websites told users to expect it Tuesday.

'Constant question of military intervention in Syria'

The fighter who beheads Sotloff in the video called it retribution for Obama’s continued airstrikes against the group in Iraq.

“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State ... despite our serious warnings,” the fighter said. “So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people.”

Third hostage threatened

At the end of the video, a masked figure in the video also issued a threat against a British hostage, and warned governments to back off “this evil alliance of America against the Islamic State”, the SITE monitoring service said.

Sotloff’s mother had pleaded for his release last week in a video directed at the Islamic State group.

Addressing the leader of the Islamic State group by name, Shirley Sotloff said in a video her son was "an innocent journalist'' who shouldn't pay for US government actions in the Middle East over which he has no control.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said he was unable to confirm the authenticity of the video.

He told reporters in a briefing that if there is such a video, it would be analysed very carefully, adding that the administration's thoughts and prayers were with Sotloff's family.

'IS wants to show that it means business in retaliation to US airstrikes'

British Prime Minister David Cameron described the video of the apparent murder as "disgusting".

France’s President François Hollande said that, if the veracity of the claim is confirmed, it is a “barbaric act”, which together with the murder of Foley, reveals the “despicable nature” of IS.

The Islamic State group, which has taken over a third of Syria and Iraq, has terrorized rivals and civilians alike with widely publicized brutality as it seeks to expand a proto-state it has carved out on both sides of the border.

In its rise to prominence over the past year, the extremist group has frequently published graphic photos and gruesome videos of everything from bombings and beheadings to mass killings.

(FRANCE 24 with AP, REUTERS)

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