MIAMI, Flordia - There are fears in the United States that Steven Sotloff, a 31-year-old a freelance journalist, may be the second American at risk of being killed by ISIS militants after the recorded beheading of American reporter James Foley.
Sotloff, of Miami, Florida, covered the Arab Spring and the war in Syria for a number of publications, including Time magazine, the Christian Science Monitor and Foreign Policy. He is reportedly the second journalist shown in the ISIS militant video of the killing of James Foley.
Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013 and is being held by ISIS, who threatened on the video to kill him next if the US continues to carry out airstrikes on ISIS positions in Iraq.
In the winter of 2013, writing for Foreign Policy.com, Sotloff reported on the millions of Syrian refugees who were overwhelming the capacity of international aid groups to help them.
"It was a serious look at the plight of the Syrian refugees," said Benjamin Pauker, executive editor of ForeignPolicy.com, speaking to Al Jazeera. "The reporting these people do is extremely valuable, extremely risky and extremely dangerous."
As the ISIS militants took control of ever-greater parts of Syria and northern Iraq, Pauker said the security situation for foreign journalists became increasingly dire.
Describing a "shifting terrain", Paucker said previously safe checkpoints became hotspots for kidnappings and extortion, 'fixers', the guides and translators who help journalists navigate, were unable to keep up as well.
In August 2013, Sotloff suddenly disappeared; his whereabouts had been unknown until he appeared in the ISIS video. "It was horrific to see him show up at the end of that video," said Paucker.
After his appearance in the video, a friend of the Sotloff family started a petition on the WhiteHouse.gov website calling on US President Obama to save him. At the time of writing, it had more than 9,300 signatures.
"We, the undersigned call upon you, President Obama, to take immediate action to save Steven's life by any means necessary," the petition states.
ISIS say they will execute Sotloff unless US aggression against the group is suspended.
However, following Foley's execution, US President Obama called the terrorist group a "cancer" that "must be eliminated", making such a change of course unlikely.