The similarities are striking.
The apparent executioner of American Steven Sotloff speaks in the same British accent as the man who purportedly killed James Foley. The journalists’ beheadings were recorded by ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.
He’s dressed identically in both videos, head to toe in black, with a face mask and combat boots. He appears to be of similar build and height. He waves a knife in his left hand, as did the militant in the video released last month of Foley’s death.
And then, there are his actual words.
“I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State,” the executioner says in the video released Tuesday, which shows Sotloff’s killing.
Complete Coverage: Steven Sotloff
The SITE Intelligence group says there’s no question the same masked fighter appears in both videos.
“He certainly wants us to think that he is the very same man,” said CNN’s Karl Penhaul. And by all appearances, he is.
Following Foley’s death, the British ambassador to the United States said that experts in his country were close to identifying his killer.
U.S. analysts have said it’s not possible to know from the video who beheaded Foley because the entire slaying is not shown. A man moves a knife across Foley’s neck, then the picture fades to black.
One forensics expert has raised the issue that there appear to be two militants in the video. The second militant appears on the video after an obvious edit.
“There’s definitely a change of actor,” said Ross Patel, the forensics expert. “There are noticeable — there are subtle — but there are also noticeable changes in their build, their physical appearance.”
The man who speaks, holds a knife in one of his hands. It looks to be a different knife than the one that was left next to Foley’s body.
Also, the dimensions and style of the knives are slightly different, Patel said.
In the Sotloff video, the picture fades to black immediately before and after the beheading so, again, it’s not immediately clear whether the man speaking is the same man who then killed the American journalist.