Steven Sotloff beheading: Obama warns US 'will not be intimidated' by Isis militants

Mr Obama warns 'justice will be served' after second beheading

President Obama has said the US will not be intimidated by the "horrific" violence committed by Islamic State (Isis) militants after the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff.

The video, which also saw an Isis fighter who speaks with an English accent threaten the life of a British hostage, has triggered new calls from Mr Obama's critics in the US Congress for more decisive action against Isis fighters.

Today, Mr Obama vowed the US will build a coalition to "degrade and destroy" the group, telling a news conference in Estonia: "They made the absurd claim they killed in the name of religion but it was Steven who deeply loved the Islamic world. Whatever these murderers think they will achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed.

“The bottom line is this: our objective is clear and that is to degrade and destroy (Isis) so that it’s no longer a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the United States."

He stressed the US will not be intimidated by such brutal acts and warned Isis: "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."

Mr Obama did not provide a timeline for deciding on a strategy to tackle the group's operation in Syria.

US Vice President later mirrored the sentiments of President Obama's strongly-worded speech, by saying America will follow "to the gates of hell" the terrorists who posted videos showing the beheading of James Foley and Mr Sotloff.

"The American people are so much stronger, so much more resolved than any enemy can fully understand," Biden said at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine. "As a nation, we're united. And when people harm Americans, we don't retreat, we don't forget."

"We take care of those who are grieving and when that's finished, they should know we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice," Biden said. "Because hell is where they'll reside."

Remarks from Washington followed a Cobra meeting in the UK chaired by Prime Minister David Cameron, where the government said it is considering "every possible option" to protect the British hostage.

The Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also confirmed there had been an unsuccessful US-led attempt at rescuing the British man shown in a video of the beheading of Mr Sotloff.

When asked what the UK could do in terms of attempting to extricate the British hostage, Mr Hammond responded: “You are aware of course of the rescue attempt that took place some time ago, unfortunately unsuccessfully.

“You wouldn’t expect me to discuss the various options we will be considering, but I can assure you we will look at every possible option to protect this person.”

Mr Hammond said analysis of footage of both Mr Sotloff's murder and Mr Foley's death appears to show the militant is the same man in both, the so-called ‘Jihadi John’, who speaks with a distinctive London or south-east accent.

Video: Beheading on Steven Sotloff discussed

Mr Sotloff, a 31-year-old from the Miami, Florida, area who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, vanished a year ago in Syria and was not seen again until he appeared in the video that showed Mr Foley's beheading.

Read more: UK will examine 'every option' to protect British hostage

Many have accused the President of dithering after he said in a White House press briefing last Thursday: "We don't have a strategy yet," to confront the militant group’s activities across the Middle East.

Mr Obama has approved over 120 strikes in Iraq but has not yet confirmed plans for Syria.

The masked man in the video directly addresses Mr Obama before killing Mr Sotloff, saying: "I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State, because of your insistence on continuing your bombings and in Amerli, Zumar and the Mosul Dam, despite our serious warnings.”

"So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people."

In the video, Mr Sotloff describes himself as "paying the price" with his life for the US intervention in Iraq.

The White House said Mr Obama is sending three top officials - Secretary of State John Kerry, Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and counter terrorism adviser Lisa Monaco - to the Middle East "in the near-term to build a stronger regional partnership" against Isis.

Mr Obama has also ordered 50 more US military personnel to protect the large American embassy in Baghdad.

Read more: US forces ‘tried to rescue British hostage’ in failed raid
HOW WE SHOULD REMEMBER STEPHEN SOTLOFF
BRITISH CAPTIVE SHOWN IN ISIS VIDEO

The Obama administration, which verified the authenticity of the video today, said it “is sickened by this brutal act taking the life of another innocent American citizen”.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Client Accountant Team Manager - Reading

Negotiable: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group has been engaged by a highly resp...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will also work alongside their seasoned sa...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Property Manager

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for your first step into...

Recruitment Genius: Mechanical Design Engineer

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This innovative company working...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat