This morning, the confusion and horror of the purported ISIS beheading of journalist James Foley, who was abducted while on assignment nearly two years ago in Syria, continued to linger in the air, though the video of purporting to so said incident was removed from YouTube. (Gawker appears to have it archived here, though we really don't feel like clicking through to test that). Equally alarming on a local level is that apparently ISIS is threatening a similar horrible fate to Miami journalist and former UCF student Steven Sotloff pending a reaction from President Barack Obama. According to reporting from the New York Times, Foley – clearly under duress – blamed his death on the U.S.A. and the spate of recent military airstrikes in Iraq.
“I call on my friends, family and loved ones to rise up against my real killers — the U.S. government — for what will happen to me is only a result of their complacent criminality,” Mr. Foley says in the video, which was uploaded to the online account of the al-Furqan Media Foundation, according to SITE, an organization that follows jihadist groups. He ends saying that when American soldiers began dropping bombs on Iraq this month, “they signed my death certificate.”
Though the family wasn't immediately reachable – in fact, the family of neither journalist has been, according to an attempt to reach Sotloff's family by the Miami New Times – Foley's family did release a statement on Facebook.
A message from Jim's mom, Diane Foley:
We have never been prouder of our son Jim. He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people.
We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.
We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.
UCF newspaper the Central Florida Future, meanwhile, confirms that Sotloff is a former journalism student and writer for the publication.
In the video, one of the ISIS extremists reportedly said that Sotloff will be the next to die if the United States doesn't stop its attacks on ISIS positions in Iraq. The video, which is in Arabic but narrated and subtitled in English, ends with Sotloff telling President Barack Obama his life "depends on your next decision."
UCF spokeswoman Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala confirmed Sotloff was a UCF student from fall 2002 through December 2004 and was a journalism pending major. Sotloff also was a contributor to the Future during his time at UCF.
A statement from Obama is expected at 12:45 p.m. UPDATE: Here is the Sentinel/Tribune take on the President's statement about ISIS (or ISIL) being a "cancer" with a "bankrupt ideology."
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