The grisly footage showing the beheading of photojournalist James Foley by an Islamic State (ISIS) executioner was declared authentic on Wednesday.
The intelligence community also confirmed the kidnapping of another American journalist, Steven Sotloff, who was the second captive shown in the recording.
“The U.S. intelligence community has analyzed the recently released video showing U.S. citizens James Foley and Steven Sotloff. We have reached the judgment that this video is authentic. We will continue to provide updates as they are available,” National Security Council spokesperson Caitlin Hayden stated.
In the gruesome video, a masked man with a British accent beheaded Foley followed by a warning that Sotloff's life was also at risk and depended on Obama’s next move.
Foley’s shocking and depraved murder has sparked an international debate over the U.S. government's failure to rescue Foley.
However, there are also increasing opinions on how Obama should now take drastic measures to save the remaining American citizen.
In a Facebook message posted on Wednesday, Frank Castle, the boyfriend of Sotloff's sister, asked supporters to sign a petition calling for his release.
"My GF Lauren Sotloff's brother Steven Sotloff was taken hostage by ISIS on August 4, 2013 and up to this point it has been all under wraps," Castle wrote.
"People please not only sign the following petition, but PLEASE SHARE so the more the better. Thank you in advance & pray for his safe return home."
While the administration has yet to comment on Sotloff’s status, following is some important information about the captive journalist.
Based in Libya
Sotloff, 31, has written for several mainstream publications, including Time magazine, Foreign Policy, the Christian Science Monitor and World Affairs Journal.
He as based in Libya but often traveled to other countries including Turkey, Syria and according to a friend, Ann Marlowe’s tweet, he "lived in Yemen for years, spoke good Arabic, deeply loved the Islamic world.”
Here’s a photo from Sotloff’s Facebook page in which he can be seen posing with two children in front of a car adorned with Libyan flags (and a New York Yankees decal, placed upside-down).
He had also reported from Libya in 2012, reconstructing what happened the night the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was attacked.
Gezi Protests Protests In Turkey
According to his Twitter posts, he was in Turkey when mass anti-government protests took place in Taksim (Gezi) Park in Istanbul last year.
He was even pepper-sprayed by an officer:
Got pepper sprayed by riot police in Antakya today. Didnt see any #GeziParkı protestors though— Steven Sotloff (@stevensotloff) July 31, 2013
Kidnapped in Syria
Sotloff had been to Syria several times and was allegedly kidnapped there.
“Sotloff is said to have been kidnapped Aug. 4, 2013. His abduction occurred shortly after crossing the border into northern Syria from Turkey, the source said. Sotloff’s family chose to keep the information quiet, believing it would keep him safer, but have continued to work with officials in Washington in an effort to secure his release,” The Washington Post reported.
Colleagues and friends call Sotloff a dedicated, thoughtful journalist.
His friend Emerson Lotzia stated in a college magazine interview that journalism was "what he loved to do."
"Steve said it was scary over there. It was dangerous. It wasn't safe to be over there. He knew it. He kept going back," he said.
Following the release of the controversial ISIS video this week, World Affairs Journal described him as "an honest and thoughtful journalist who strives to understand the story from local perspectives."
It said he sought to "report his findings straightforwardly," adding, "He is certainly courageous."
Social media presence
Although Sotloff had been inactive online for a while, he had a considerable social media presence. He has accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, where he describes himself as a “stand-up philosopher from Miami.”
Every now and then he would also profess his love for basketball there.
Here are some photos from his Instagram account.