MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Local leaders are reacting to the newly released video which purports to show the beheading of U.S. Journalist Steven Sotloff.
The 31-year old South Florida native was kidnapped back in August 2013 near the Turkey-Syria border and was seen in another video last month in which another American journalist was beheaded.
As a spokeswoman for Sotloff’s family says the they are grieving, local leaders are also speaking out against his apparent murder.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) presides over the Congressional District of Pinecrest which is where Sotloff’s family lives. She released a statement Tuesday afternoon regarding the apparent murder saying, “I cannot imagine coping with the pain Shirley and Art must be feeling right now as they lose a son due to a savage terrorist organization and my heart and prayers go out to their entire family. This atrocious and brutal act shows that ISIL’s cruelty knows no bounds and that it has no respect for human life. ISIL is a global terror group that espouses an ideology that poses a grave threat to regional security as well as U.S. national security interests both at home and abroad.”
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio had kind words about Sotloff calling him “a man of enormous courage and decency.” He also released a statement saying in part, “Through his journalism, he demonstrated deep personal compassion toward the Middle East and its people. He hoped to shine a light on both the good and the bad of the region – to show the world the dramatic potential of its people as well as the stark forces of evil holding them back….Steven’s balanced and earnest approach to journalism was met with love by many in the Middle East, but with brutal disdain by those whose tactics stood in such clear contrast to his own.”
U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23) also issued a statement saying, “I am absolutely devastated at the reported murder of Steven Sotloff by the Islamic State. Steven was a dedicated journalist who committed his professional life to keeping the rest of the world informed about conflict and human suffering in the Middle East. Just last week his mother, Shirley, released a video pleading to the group’s basic humanity to release Steven, an independent journalist seeking to cover a conflict that has killed or displaced thousands of innocent people.Yet again the Islamic State has proved it is a depraved group of brutal extremists who have no respect for human life, international norms or human decency. As the President has said, we will be vigilant and relentless in pursuing justice against those who harm Americans and innocent people.I send my deepest condolences to Steven’s family and friends during this horrific time. South Florida is a tight-knit community, and we all stand together to mourn with his family.”
In another released statement, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson offered his condolences saying, “Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Steven Sotloff. Let there be no doubt, we must go after ISIS right away because the U.S. is the only one that can put together a coalition to stop this group that’s intent on barbaric cruelty.”
Florida Governor Rick Scott also sent his condolences to the family, releasing a statement saying in part, “We cannot begin to understand their grief. The people who did this are evil. They are not merely wrong, they are not adversaries, they are evil. And evil must be confronted and destroyed. In fact, these immoral animals reject the basic code of human morality that crosses all cultures. This is not a political or international disagreement. It is a case of barbarians choosing to set themselves apart from the rest of humanity. Here is what they need to understand – Steve Sotloff was a Floridian, but more importantly he was an American. If you attack one American, you are attacking all Americans.”
Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-21) also expressed his sadness over apparent murder, releasing a statement in part saying, “For the past year my colleagues and have worked with the Sotloff family in their search for Steven, and in this darkest moment I offer my thoughts and prayers to his family and all those who loved him.”
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) also offered his condolences for the apparent murder while also putting a spotlight on ISIS, releasing a statement saying in part, “It is clear that ISIS presents a direct threat to the lives of innocent Americans, as well as peace and stability in the region. As our nation’s government and intelligence community work diligently to authenticate the video, my thoughts and prayers go out to Steven’s family during this most difficult time. The United States will not tolerate these heinous acts on its citizens.”
Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez also shared some kind words for Sotloff and his family. He released a statement Tuesday evening saying, “Today we mourn the death of Miami native son, Steven Sotloff, at the hands of the brutal and evil ISIS terrorists. Our deepest condolences go out to his parents and his entire family. The cruelty shown to Steven is in stark contrast to the courage and bravery he displayed both as a journalist and an American. Our hearts are with the Sotloff family at this time of grief, and we pray for an end to this terrorist violence.”
On the national arena, the National Security Council Spokesperson Bernadette Meehan said they are working to verify the video saying, “The intelligence community is working as quickly as possible to determine its authenticity. If genuine, we are appalled by the brutal murder of an innocent American journalist and we express our deepest condolences to his family and friends. We will provide more information when it is available.”
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) also condemned the alleged murder of Sotloff saying, “No words can describe the horror, disgust and sorrow felt by Muslims in America and worldwide at the unconscionable and un-Islamic violence perpetrated by the terror group ISIS. The criminal actions of ISIS are antithetical to the faith of Islam. Such brutal acts must face redoubled efforts by people of all faiths and backgrounds to promote peace and justice and to reject the religious divisions these monstrous acts are designed to create. Our hearts go out to Mr. Sotloff’s loved ones and to all the loved ones of those murdered by ISIS.”
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