U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday called the brutal execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff by jihadists affiliated the group calling itself the Islamic State was an “act of medieval savagery by a coward hiding behind a mask
Islamic State released a video that purportedly showed Sotloff being beheaded on Tuesday, the second time the group distributed footage showing an American journalist being killed in less than two weeks.
“Steven Sotloff’s reporting was as empathetic as his killers are evil. He focused on the stories of average people trapped in war, and documented their day-in and day-out struggle for dignity,” Kerry said in the statement. “For so many who worked so long to bring Steven and the other Americans home safely, this was not how the story should have ended. It’s a punch to the gut.”
Kerry said ISIS will be held accountable for Sotloff’s death, “no matter how long it takes.”
“Barbarity, sadly, isn’t new to our world. Neither is evil. We’ve taken the fight to it before, and we’re taking the fight to it today,” Kerry said.
Kerry’s statement came amid renewed calls from Congress for the Obama administration to expand the mission against ISIS and take the fight into neighbouring Syria.
Speaking at a press conference in Estonia on Wednesday, President Barack Obama said the U.S. would refuse to be intimidated by the group. Obama said his goal was to “degrade and destroy” ISIS until it was no longer a threat to the region and the broader global community.
“Whatever these murderers think they will achieve by killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already failed,” Obama said.
“They have failed because, like people around the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists. And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget, and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.