Reports: ISIS beheads former UCF student Steven Sotloff
A new video released by the Islamic State reportedly shows the execution of Steven Sotloff - the second American journalist to be executed by the terrorist group.
A video distributed by the Islamic State on Tuesday appears to show Steven Joel Sotloff, a former UCF student, being beheaded.
Despite pleas from his mother last week to spare his life, the video shows Sotloff in an orange jumpsuit with what appears to be the same militant in the video.
"You've spent billions of U.S. tax payers dollars and we've lost thousands of our troops in our previous fighting against the Islamic State," Sotfloff says in the video. "So where is the people's interest in reigniting this war?"
The militant appeared in the video next and blamed President Barack Obama.
"I'm back, Obama, and I'm back because of your arrogant foreign policy toward the Islamic State," the man says.
He continued: "You, Obama, have but to gain from your actions but another American citizen. So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people."
The incident follows an initial video that was released on Aug. 20 showing journalist James Foley being beheaded as well. In that video, the militants threatened the life of Sotloff, who was also pictured. The most recent video ends with a threat to Britain's David Haines, another reporter.
The White House has not yet been able to confirm the authenticity of the video.
"I'm not in a position to confirm the authenticity of the video or the reports since I just walked out here," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. "If there is a video that has been released, it is something that will be analyzed very carefully by the U.S. government and our intelligence officials to determine its authenticity."
Locally, Florida politicians are speaking out on the issue and calling for action.
"I think I can speak for all Floridians and all Americans when I say that the time for a strategy is now, and part of that strategy needs to include destroying them [ISIS]," Governor Rick Scott said in a released statement.
U.S. Senator Bill Nelson had a similar sentiment.
"Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away, because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that's intent on barbaric cruelty," he said.
On campus at UCF, the reports have hit extremely close to home. Kimberly Voss, area coordinator for the journalism program at the university, said the news broke during her honors media law class and ignited a very important conversation about the significance of not only the situation, but of journalists willing to be on the front lines.
"Someone has to do that ... not all of us are willing take the kind of chances as those who cover dangerous combat-type journalism," she said. "That's a special kind of person, but they do it on behalf of all of us."
UCF President John C. Hitt also released a statement.
"Our UCF family mourns Steven's death, and we join millions of people around the world who are outraged at this despicable and unjustifiable act," he said.
About Steven Sotloff
Sotloff was a UCF student from 2002-04, and was a pending journalism major. He left the university to return home to Miami. After he left UCF, he began to focus on working as a correspondent in the Middle East.
While at UCF, Sotloff was a senior staff writer for the Central Florida Future. He covered politics, international issues and breaking news. As a freelance journalist, he worked for TIME and other publications while working in Turkey, Syria, Somalia and Iraq.
"He said it was scary over there; it was dangerous. It wasn't safe to be over there — he knew it," his former UCF roommate Emerson Lotzia Jr. told the Central Florida Future after the first video was released. "He kept going back."
In many trips to the Middle East over the past decade, Sotloff's desire to tell stories is evident. He spent time in some of the world's most heated locations. The last Facebook post he made speaks of the constant danger that is present.
"Riot police came out for some reason in Antakya today," Sotloff's post reads. "I was pepper sprayed in the face and thrown to the ground. Some plain-clothed cops then confiscated my camera and detained me. They were very cordial after and even returned my camera a few hours later (with a blank memory card, of course). Moral of the story: don't take pictures of Turkish riot police in action."
That was just a day in the life of a reporter on the front lines. He told Lotzia it was dangerous. Those close to Sotloff had told him he was crazy for continuing to return to the Middle East, but Sotloff kept going back.
"A million people could have told him what he was doing was foolish, it seemed like it to us [as] outsiders looking in, but to him it was what he loved to do and you weren't going to stop him," Lotzia said.
Lotzia said he still has voicemails on his phone from Sotloff, with time stamps as of February 2013. His most recent tweet show his other love — sports.
Sotloff is a die-hard Miami Dolphins and Miami Heat fan. Even in the Middle East, he had discovered ways of staying up-to-date on American sports.
In college, it was another sport that had his heart.
"He loved the sport of rugby," Lotzia said. "That first summer when we first met, that was when he told me about rugby. When we moved in together, he would never shut the heck up about rugby. Rugby or the Miami Dolphins."
After they moved in together at The Village at Alafaya Club their sophomore year, Lotzia and Sotloff joined the rugby team at UCF together. While at UCF, Sotloff was also a senior staff writer for the Central Florida Future, for which he covered the 2004 election, international issues and breaking news.
One story, headlined "Colleges are political hotbeds," was published on Oct. 28, 2004, and featured the American Israel Public Affairs Committee — a group whose goal was to expand Israeli rights on campus.