President Obama warned the killers of American journalist Steven Sotloff on Wednesday that the U.S. reach is long and “justice will be served” for his brutal murder.
Obama, speaking at a news conference in the Estonian capital, also sharpened his tone against the Islamic State group that controls parts of northern Iraq and Syria. Obama, however, gave no clear details on whether the United States planned to escalate its pressure on the group beyond the current wave of limited airstrikes.
Obama said America’s bottom line and clear objective was to “degrade and destroy’’ the group that killed Sotloff and fellow U.S. journalist James Foley “so it is no longer
a threat just to Iraq, but to the region and the United States.”
“We can accomplish that,” he said, although he admitted it would take both time and effort. He added: “We will not be intimidated.”
Obama confirmed that it was Sotloff in the video released Tuesday and that the journalist was “taken from us in a horrific act of violence.”
“We cannot even begin to imagine the agony that everyone who loves Steven is feeling right now, especially his mother, his father and his younger sister. So today our country grieves with them,” Obama said.
He said Sotloff’s life, like the life of slain journalist James Foley, “stood in sharp contrast to those who murdered him so brutally.”
Although overshadowed by the brutal killing in the Middle East, Obama arrived in the Estonian capital with the goal of reassuring Baltic countries that the United States and NATO stand ready to defend them against possible Russian aggression. The meeting came ahead of a NATO meeting in Wales that is expected to be dominated by the Ukraine crisis.