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The Edge of Terrorism

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Video Purports To Show Beheading Of Second U.S. Journalist

ISIL execution victims

A video released online purports to show the beheading of U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff by Islamic State (IS) militants.

The video, which emerged on September 2, shows 31-year-old Sotloff dressed in orange and on his knees in a desert landscape. A masked militant condemns U.S. attacks on the IS and cuts Sotloff's throat.

The militant then introduces a second captive, identified as David Haines and said to be British, and warned governments to back off from U.S. alliance against Islamic State.

The White House said U.S. officials were checking the reports. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said: "If the video is genuine, we are sickened by this brutal act."

British Prime Minister David Cameron condemned the apparent beheading as an "absolutely disgusting, despicable act." Sotloff would be the second U.S. journalist to be shown being beheaded with a knife by IS militants.

The first video, released on August 20, showed James Foley being killed. In the video, a masked man warned U.S. officials that Sotloff would be killed next if Washington did not end air strikes in Iraq against the IS.

Sotloff had worked for the magazine "Time," as well as "The National Interest," and "Foreign Policy." He was kidnapped in Syria in August 2013. Sotloff's mother made a video on August 27 urging IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to release him.

The United States has recently carried out dozens of air strikes against IS targets in Iraq. The group and its allies control large parts of northern and western Iraq after entering the country at the start of this year from areas in northeastern Syria.

In a report released earlier on September 2, human rights watchdog Amnesty International said IS militants were guilty of "systematic ethnic cleansing" in northern Iraq. The report cites "hair-raising" accounts from survivors of massacres that Amnesty said shows IS fighters have committed "war crimes."

The report said, "The massacres and abductions being carried out by the Islamic State provide harrowing new evidence that a wave of ethnic cleansing against minorities is sweeping across northern Iraq." The report said that in just two villages -- Qiniyeh on August 3 and Kocho on August 15 -- "the number of those killed...runs into the hundreds."

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