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'A despicable crime': UN chief slams murder of US journalist Steven Sotloff

The White House has confirmed that the video showing Sotloff’s beheading is authentic.

Image: Katerina Sulova/Czech News Agency/Press Association Images

UN SECRETARY GENERAL Ban Ki-moon has said that the world was “outraged” at the beheading of journalist Steven Sotloff in a video released by Islamic State militants.

The release of the images follows similar grisly footage from IS last month showing another US journalist, James Foley, being decapitated.

“We are all outraged at reports from Iraq about the brutal killing of civilians by ISIL (IS), including yesterday’s reported brutal beheading of another journalist,” he said in New Zealand.

I strongly condemn all such despicable crimes and I refuse to accept that whole communities can be threatened by atrocity crimes because of who they are or what they believe.

The White House has confirmed that the video is authentic.

The UN chief described the situation in Iraq, where IS extremists have seized territory in the north and west of the country, as “abhorrent” and called on religious leaders “to stand up for tolerance, mutual respect and non-violence”.

In the latest footage, Sotloff, 31, calmly addresses the camera to say he is a victim of US President Barack Obama’s decision to press on with air strikes in Iraq against the jihadists.

A masked militant with a British accent, possibly the same man shown killing Foley in the first video, then murders him with a knife.

Sotloff, a veteran war reporter well versed in the history and culture of the Middle East, was captured just over a year ago while crossing the frontier from Turkey into Syria.

The New York Post reports that a family spokesperson has said Sotloff’s relatives are aware “of this horrific tragedy and [are] grieving privately”, while Foley’s family said in a post on Facebook:

We pray for the soul of Steve Sotloff and for his family and friends.

On Tuesday, Ban described IS’s reign of terror in Syria and Iraq, in which the jihadists have staged mass executions, beheadings, crucifixions and stonings, as “totally unacceptable”.

The UN Human Rights Council this week unanimously agreed to send an emergency mission to Iraq to investigate atrocities in the self-declared Islamic “caliphate” amid reports of ethnic cleansing in minority Christian and Yazidi Kurdish areas.

Similar to last week’s video of Foley’s murder, many have called for the video, or stills from the footage, not to be published.

Video sharing website LiveLeak, on which videos like this has previously appeared, has banned the uploads of the video.

“This is the first time we’ve ever made a decision to politically censor material,” a statement read.

“There is a difference between showing what is happening and advertising.

“Sometimes it’s a fine line, sometimes (as with this particular video) not so fine. Our stance was not based solely on this video but on the very real possibility IS will be releasing similar videos in the near future.

They are aimed at advertising the IS message directly to the west. They are advertising, slickly produced pseudo snuff movies and we want no part in them should they come up.

Additional reporting © AFP 2014

Read: US journalist Steven Sotloff ‘beheaded by Islamic State’ in newly released video >

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Nicky Ryan

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