The United States plans to fight Islamic State until it
is no longer a force in the Middle East and will seek justice
for the killing of American journalist Steven Sotloff,
President Barack Obama says.
He added that destroying the militant group will take time
because of the power vacuum in Syria, the abundance of
battle-hardened fighters that grew out of al Qaeda during the
Iraq war, and the need to build coalitions, including with
local Sunni communities.
Islamic State released a video on Tuesday (local time)
showing the beheading of the US journalist, the second
American hostage to be killed within weeks, in retaliation
for US air strikes in Iraq.
"The bottom line is this, our objective is clear and that is
to degrade and destroy (Islamic State) so that it's no longer
a threat not just to Iraq but also the region and to the
United States," Obama told a news conference.
"Whatever these murderers think they will achieve with
killing innocent Americans like Steven, they have already
failed," Obama said. "They failed because, like people around
the world, Americans are repulsed by their barbarism. We will
not be intimidated."
US and British officials both examined the video, showing the
same British-accented executioner who appeared in an August
19 video of the killing of US journalist James Foley,
concluding it was authentic.
The United States resumed air strikes in Iraq in August for
the first time since the pullout of US troops in 2011, and
Obama said the strikes are already proving effective.
"Those that make the mistake of harming Americans will learn
that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that
justice will be served," said Obama, who authorised the
strike in Pakistan that killed al Qaeda leader Osama bin
Laden 10 years after the September 11, 2001, attacks on the
At home, top Obama administration officials punctuated
Obama's warnings to the Islamic State.
"They should know we will follow them to the gates of hell
until they are brought to justice. Because hell is where they
will reside, hell is where they will reside," Vice President
Joe Biden said during an appearance in New Hampshire.
In Washington, Secretary of State John Kerry called Sotloff's
execution a "punch to the gut" and said the United States has
used every military, diplomatic and intelligence tool it has
to free hostages in Syria.
Kerry said Sotloff was "brutally taken from us in an act of
medieval savagery by a coward hiding behind a mask."
"We have taken the fight to this kind of savagery and evil
before and, believe me, we will take it again," he said.
"When terrorists anywhere around the world have murdered our
citizens, the United States held them accountable no matter
how long it took."
Obama is sending Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and
counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco to the Middle East to
work with regional partners on ways to battle Islamic State.
"This is not going to be a one-week or one-month or six-month
proposition because of what's happened in the vacuum of
Syria," Obama said. "It's going to take time for us to be
able to roll them back."