September 3, 2014
Steven Sotloff Was Killed Weeks Ago, At Same Time As James Foley, U.S. Officials Reportedly Believe

Steven Sotloff, the United States journalist, killed by beheading in the latest Islamic State terror video posted online September 2, may have been killed at the same time as photojournalist James Foley whose murder by beheading was shown in a video posted two weeks earlier.

In fact, both kidnapped reporters may have been murdered by Islamic State fanatics as early as August 15, before United States airstrikes in Iraq helped Kurdish and Iraqi soldiers drove the IS militants from the crucial Mosul Dam in Iraq, which would mean that there is nothing the United States could have done to save Sotloff, even halting the airstrikes.

Those are the beliefs of sources within the U.S. intelligence and defense establishments, speaking on background to two journalists, who reported the allegations September 2 in the online version of the respected Foreign Policy Magazine.

In another revelation Wednesday, it was revealed that Steven Sotloff was an Israeli, holding dual citizenship in both Israel and the United States. A media gag order in Israel against revealing Sotloff's Israeli citizenship was lifted Wednesday after the authenticity of the video in which Sotloff is shown beheaded was confirmed.

Sotloff emigrated to Israel in 2005, when he would have been 22-years-old, and studied at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, the Israeli Channel 7 news outlet reported.

The gag order was imposed in hopes that concealing Sotloff's Israeli citizenship would help preserve his life, especially after he appeared in the James Foley beheading video in the hands of an IS militant who threatened to behead him next, if the U.S. did not halt airstrikes against IS positions in Iraq.

But if information in the Foreign Policy article proves accurate, not only was the gag order no help to Sotloff who was already dead, but the Islamic State militants never had — and likely still do not have — any intention of bargaining with the United States to halt the airstrikes.

Speaking to Foreign Policy reporters Shane Harris and Kate Brannen on background, a U.S. defense official said that staging the two beheading videos to make them appear as if they were filmed at different times would be a simple matter.

The official noted that in the video released this week, the IS militant who speaks to the camera offers no statement that could pinpoint exactly when the video was shot. The only date-specific reference in the video is to the Mosul Dam airstrikes, which began on August 17 — two days before the James Foley beheading video was made public. And officials secretly believe that Foley may have been murdered two additional days before that, according to Harris and Brannen.

But Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby refused to comment for the record on when the U.S. believes Steven Sotloff was actually killed.