someone whose poor performance is slowing down the entire organization. i'm looking at you phone company dsl. go to comcastbusiness.com/ checkyourspeed. if we can't offer faster speeds or save you money we'll give you $150. comcast business built for business. right now, u.s. military operation against the terror group responsible for last year's deadly attack on a shopping mill in kenya. questions this hour about whether the group's top leaders were killed. right now, president obama heads to europe as the rhetoric and the tension escalate over ukraine. his first stop, no coincidence, russia's next door neighbor. and cnn speaks to three americans being held in north korea. we're going to get the back story on how those interviews happened and north korea's possible message to the united states.
hello, i'm wolf blitzer reporting from washington. we start with an american anti-terror operation in somalia. the missile strike aimed at the leadership of the al shabab terror group south of mogadishu. >> al shabab is of course a terrorist organization. we've designated them in '08. they've claimed credit from everything from the westgate mall attack to a range attacks across africa. they're one of al qaeda's biggest affiliates in northern africa. certainly we take into account and we do everything we can also to take on this threat. >> our global affairs correspondent elise abbott is here with me now. what do we know about what happened? they're tight-lipped on whether or not the leadership of al shabab supposedly in a meeting
at site of this drone attack were killed or not killed. >> the pentagon is only saying it undertook the operations. it's not even saying who the target was. somali officials are talking about this meeting where the leader of al shabab, ahmed godane, was meeting with his top commanders and supposedly this was where the u.s. was going after them. but the u.s. won't confirm anything about the operation. i think they want to get some dna results, find out who was killed before they find anything further. >> it was a drone strike and there were four missiles -- >> hellfire missiles. >> hellfire missiles launched at this target. we don't know the end result yet. this isn't the first time the united states has gone after al shabab targets in sosomalia. >> the u.s. launched a series of drone strikes against this group. while it did kill a top commander in the intelligence unit, it was unable to get godane. so i think they want to be specifically firm this time and confirm this. >> here's a question, i'm going
to pose it later to -- we have some top members of the house foreign affairs committee coming in. the u.s. can launch drone strikes against targets in somalia, terror targets, against obviously in iraq, which is obviously going on, isis targets, in pakistan, terror-related targets. why not in syria? why not launch drone strikes in syria against isis targetings? when you ask a question like that of the state department, what do they say? >> well, the answer is always shifting. well, right now what they're saying is it's much more difficult to know who to hit in syria because a lot of the rebel groups, isis, the regime, they're all kind of glommed together. how do you know exactly who to hit. the criticism of this administration is that it was much easier to go after these terrorists a long time ago. and that the problem we're facing, particularly in iraq right now, and that also is kind of one border between iraq and syria, is that they don't know because they didn't go after the group when it was relatively
easy to do. officials are saying, listen we can walk and chew gum at the same time. what they said is what's different is there was a target of opportunity here. you had this meeting of this group of senior leadership. those targets of opportunities don't come along every so often. so the u.s. is always looking at perhaps -- and in syria, we have to hope they're looking for that opportunity to go after senior isis leadership. >> there's a political decision they have to make to authorization air strikes against isis targets in syria. in iraq, we know they've been going on. we know these strikes against al qaeda in the arabian peninsula and yemen have been going on and elsewhere. so it's something that we're going to ponder as we continue our coverage. >> you also have the somalis apparently looked for help from the united states in syria to launch an air strike. you don't really have the cooperation of the syrian regime. the question now, is the u.s. going to look to the syrian regime for some kind of cooperation.
>> i don't think that's going to happen. they're getting cooperation from the free syrian army, the moderate opposition. we'll see how far that goes. eli elise, thanks very much. we could hear some more about this operation at the top of the hour. the pentagon is holding a briefing. we'll have cove rrage of that. president obama gets ready to head overseas. the president leaves later this afternoon for estonia. that will take him to nato summit in wales. among the tough issues, the crisis in ukraine, the future of nato's military readiness and the advance by isis in iraq and syria. the president's foreign policy is under lots of fire right now from critics here at home. even one democratic senator is questioning whether he is too cautious. our white house correspondent michelle kosinski takes a closer look at what's ahead during the president's trip. >> hi, wolf. the last nato summit was in 2012
in chicago. does anybody remember that one? maybe not. remember, just less than a year ago, we were all talking about this sort of identity crisis of nato. well, look at things now. the west confronts threats from russia, from isis. now the talk is about expanding membership. boosting funding. creating an emergency response military force. how is president obama ending up in the sleepy baltic capital of estonia this afternoon? just take a look at its neighbor and russia's unceasing actions down the road in ukraine. and suddenly this added-on meeting with leaders of estonia, latvia and lithuania, hits at the heart of what the nato alliance is for. as the white house put it, to reaffirm our iron-clad commitment to collective defense. now, once again, just as we commemorate the start of world war ii, nato matters.
ukraine is looking to join. nato's secretary-general is proposing creating a rapid response military force ready for emergency defense in 48 hours. something the white house supports. this summit now will look at what to do next about russia. as europe draws up new sanctions. yet another crisis looms to be discussed by the west. and that is isis. with thousands of foreign fighters with western passports currently fighting in syria, britain's prime minister now with europe has vowed to act. >> a firm security response with the military action to go after terrorists, international cooperation on intelligence and unflinching cooperation at home. >> while the crisis in iraq continues, had a bit a rough long weekend in the press, following those words on syria. >> we don't have a strategy yet. >> with some head-turning reaction from both parties. >> the russian bear is
encountering the obama kitty cat. >> he's very cautious. maybe in this instance too cautious. >> the president has made clear, he is loathe to use military force. has repeatedly emphasized the need for a strong international coalition on both russia and isis. now, this nato summit has plenty on the table. well, we all know a big meeting doesn't necessarily immediately generate big decisions or big news, but i think it's pretty likely we'll see something more or sanctions against russia here. now the goal is to assess the effectiveness of the international response to both russia and isis and see if there's anything more to be done. wolf. >> michelle cosin zi at the white house. in iraq today, relative, iraqi soldiers attacked by isis stormed the parliament in baghdad. they're demanding answers about the fate of soldiers isis claims
to have massacred. that happened when the terrorists overran a military base near tikrit in june. britain, meanwhile, is looking for ways to target citizens suspects of joining isis. the prime minister david cameron wants to give police the power to seize their passports and other measures aimed at preventing foreign fighters from returning to the uk. no doubt, the president of the united states has a landry list of issues to address on his trip overseas. can he make the most of his opportunity on the international stage? also, it's a single computer that reportedly contained isis' plans to use biological weapons on thousands of civilians. we'll take a closer look at what's being called the laptop of doom. veggies you're cool... reworking the menu. mayo, corn dogs...you are so out of here! ahh... the complete balanced nutrition of great tasting ensure. 24 vitamins and minerals. 9 grams of protein... with 30% less sugars than before.
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a lot of attention on president obama as he meets with world leaders in estonia and later in wales. no lack of pressure both from allies and folks at home to get something tangible accomplished. want to bring in cnn's chief national correspondent jim sciutto. our chief political analyst gloria borger. i guess when you think about it, isis and ukraine and, now, al shabab, there's a lot of stuff that the president's got to worry about right now as heads first to estonia, symbolic visit, a doorstep of russia, but then he gots to wales to deal with all the nato leaders. >> nato has a lot on its plate. estonia, one, it's his physical presence, it's a nate yeo membe right on russia's frontier. they're the most nervous of america's allies with russia's advances in ukraine. physical presence there makes a difference. you'll hear the message you've heard for some time.
just recommitting itself to nato, specifically the article 5, the mutual defense treaty that applies to nato allies, of course, not to ukraine. that message will be not just for the estonians but also the russians. they'll speak to two audiences when they're on the ground there. we stand with you, estonians, and russia, make sure you know we stand together against you, in effect. >> the president's got a tough mission. he's got to convince the allies, the nato allies there is this article 5, if one nato ally, whether estonia or poland or any other country near russia are abeing thatted, attacked, all the nato allies have to come to their defense. >> he's got to convince the nato allies overall he can actually lead. he's got to do that in this country. you have a new pew poll out that says that 54% of americans believe that the president is not tough enough when it
companicompany comes to foreign policy. just last week he said he didn't have a strategy when it comes to syria. we see his cabinet is divided. we see his own ambivalence about the use of force. he hasn't told us whether isis is a direct threat to our own national security. so not only do the nato allies have to hear from him, but i would argue that the american people still have to hear from him. he is being cautious. and everybody would agree that's a good thing. no nobody in this country wants boots on the ground or to go to war. even democrats are saying, like dianne feinstein over the weekend, that he's a little too cautious. >> terms of rallying nato allies, short of military steps, you know, how this talk of a 48-hour reaction force to threats to nato allies, that's a military sense. but so far the leadership, the coalition building on economic measures against russia has not been encouraging. they've been very slow in coming and very piecemeal. >> we've been leading on that.
interestingly enough, we've been the ones who have been very strong on the economic sanctions. europe has been a little bit more recalcitrant on that because they have more to lose, right? but when it comes to isis and syria, i mean, we've heard very strong words from david cameron, but we haven't heard, yet, have we, whether he would, in fact, join in any kind of air strikes or anything like that. in fact, we've heard hints of just the opposite. >> because the comments the president made, what, last thursday, still are having a negative ripple effect. when he said, i don't have a strategy. he specifically said, in terms of dealing with isis in syria. and that's caused a little heart break. >> of course, the white house pushback was, well, we have a strategy for iraq but we're still work on the strategy for syria. the trouble is, i speak to a number of defense officials and others, is that, you know, isis has a presence in both iraq and syria. >> right. >> you can't really have a strategy for isis in one country and not the other country. not just iraq and syria, it's
threatening the borders of lebanon, turkey. it can't be dealt with piecemeal. that's the criticism now. >> all right, guys, don't go too far away. we've got more to discuss. lots more news. including more on the president's foreign policy battles. the chairman of the ranking member of the house committee. and the threat that isis poses to the united states. i'm type e. i know what my money is doing. i rebalanced my portfolio on my phone. you know what else i can do on my phone? place trades, get free real time quotes and teleport myself to aruba. i wish.
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as president obama faces increasing criticism at home for his supposed lack of strategy for his dealing with isis in syria. chairman california republican, congressman ed rois and the ranking democrat on the committee, elliott engel from new york. congressmen, to both of you, thank you for joining us. let me get right to the issue that a lot of folks are talking about. a lack of supposedly strategy that the president has in dealing with isis and syria. mr. chairman, congressman, how concerned are you about that what the president said? >> we're concerned. i'm not the only one concerned. i can share with you many countries in this region are very concerned about the brutality of isis. and they feel there needs to be an international coalition here. but that's going to require leadership on the part of the united states. that's going to require not only coordination, but a will to go after, from the air, using air
power, these targets that isis presents. and do it before they dig in the way hamas dug in. right now, they're vulnerable. but they've got momentum. so the time to stop them is now. >> you agree, congressman engel, the president is being perhaps too cautious? dianne feinstein, the chair of the senate intelligence committee, said maybe he's being too cautious now in dealing with isis in syria. what say you? >> well, i think the president is trying to build an international coalition. obviously, he doesn't want to repeat the mistakes for the united states, does everything alone, so i think we have to look for an international coalition. i think the president agrees that isis is a terrible threat. isis is a terrible threat to our homeland. i think it's analogous to afghanistan when the russians are finally thrown out of afghanistan, we just didn't fill any kind of a vacuum, and al qaeda was able to have -- to get its account together in a
no-man's-land and we got september 11th. so think what has to happen now is the world has to, and with the united states leading, has to make sure that isis isn't allowed to plot and plan attacks against our homeland and frankly our nato allies need to be involved too, because the proximity of -- where the terrorists are is much closer to europe than they are to the united states. >> congressman royce, you heard in the last 24 hours the u.s. launched hellfire drone strikes against al shabab targets in somalia. the u.s. does similar strikes in pakistan, in yemen. obviously, in recent weeks, in iraq. why not large similar kinds of strikes against isis targets in syria? >> precisely, because it's the same phenomenon. these are all militant
organizations. in the case of isis, certainly the most militant, the most brutal, the most dangerous. and because this strategy has proved effective in terms of suppressing terrorists, we need to deploy it here. in addition, we've got another aspect of this problem. and that is that the training done by chechens in isis are training a new generation of fighters, and we could hit that training base, we should. >> we should have been -- >> all right, i want to ask both of you, congressmen, please stand by for a moment. we're getting some very depressing sad news coming in to cnn right now. we can now report that the american journalist, steven sotloff, 31-year-old freelancer, has been executed by isis. they've just released a videotape. isis, showing the execution of stephen sotloff. isis released the video. once again, a brutal execution. a beheading of this journalist,
this american journalist. karl penhaul is joining us from london right now. we know that they've posted still photos, karl, on twitter and elsewhere, is that right, this is coming from isis? >> wolf, in fact, a video has also been posted online. we're showing you right now, the stills, again, that is part of our editorial policy. not to show and reflect the isis propaganda videos that are going out and also to try to remember these people in life rather than in death. but, yes, this isis video, a little over two minutes in length. once against, we are seeing a man with an apparent british accent dressed in head to toe in black. apart from sand colored desert combat boots. he has a knife in his left hand. the opening words there from steven sotloff saying that "you know who i am by now and you know why i am here." that is the prelude, really, to what then comes, and later on in
this video, we see, once again, that apparently british accented executioner then pointing his knife into the camera once again, as he did with that brutal execution video of james foley, saying, "obama, i am back," indicating this is possibly the same man that took that action against james foley, and then proceeds to pass a combat knife across steven foley's throat before that video fades to black. once it does fade to black, once again, we see a gruesome picture after that, a blood soaked body, dressed in the orange uniform, similar to the uniforms the guantanamo prisoners were held in, and what appears to be a severed head on top of that body. this video, like the last video, we see another hostage there.
apparently an indication there he may be the next man. we're working hard to identify him, get some more details about him in this video. the executioner or apparent executioner, as he waves his knife, he says, obama, back off and just leave us alone. again, brutal propaganda video once again. it seems that the worst has happened with fellow journalist freelance steven sotloff, 31 years old, wolf. >> the masked figure with the british accent. we don't know if it's the same individual but we suspect it was who beheaded james foley. also says in this video, just coming in, quote, directly addressing the president of the united states, just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people. a very blunt statement. karl, have you had a chance to actually hear the voice of this individual who beheaded steven
sotloff? can we make an initial determination whether or not it is the same individual who also beheaded james foley? >> yeah, i have looked and listened to that video, wolf, and as tough as it is, sometimes we do have to look through these things to look for clues, even though we don't show them on our air. there are a number of similarities between this video and the last video, of course, as steven, dressed once again in that orange guantanamo-style prison uniform. the executioner or apparent executioner once again dressed from head to toe in a very similar black uniform to the one that was seen in the james foley execution video. once again, this person, who seems to be of similar build, stature and height to the man who appeared in the james foley execution video, is also wearing a black ski mask-type mask over his face. he appears once against to be
left handed. certainly holding that combat knife in his left-hand. he has some kind of a weapon. difficult to tell on a quick analysis whether that's a pistol or sub machine gun. strapped into a holster under his left arm. an indication he is holding a weapon. in the previous video, same kind of boots as well, american-style desert combat boots. a very similar accent. at first blush, you would say it appears to be a southern london accent. saying, obama, i am back. an indication that he certainly wants us to think he is the very same man that appeared on that brutal james foley execution video as well, wolf. >> we remember, it was only last week that steven sotloff's mother, shirley sotloff, had this extraordinary statement that you made on the al arabiya television net are appealing to al baghdadi, the leader of isis,
to spare her son, but now we know that those words were not heeded. let me get quick reaction from the top two members of the house foreign affairs committee. ed royce. ranking member elliott engel. both joining us from jerusalem. what's your reaction, a second american now beheaded by isis. >> you know, our hearts go out to the family, to steven's family, at the same time, we remember the thousands of christians and other religious minorities who have also been decapitated or crucified. massacred by isis, as they've rolled across syria, rolled across iraq, all the way up to kurdistan. it is chilling that this type of madness is now part of their operation as they take cities across the area. >> well, this is just awful, wolf -- >> go ahead, congressman. >> this is exactly the reason why we have to go after isis, why we cannot just let them
wreak havoc there. they are killers. they are brutal. the executioner is a coward because he wears a cover from head to toe, so you can't see what his face looks like. he's really just a coward. and these are the types of people. it's why isis is a threat. to the entire world. and why we just simply cannot ignore them. we've got to defeat them. >> very quickly to both of you, congressman engel first, you want the president of the united states to authorize air strikes against isis targets in syria? >> yes, i do. i, for years, have been calling to aid the free syria army. i even put in legislation about a year and a half ago to do that. and i think it was a mistake not to do it. but i think that isis is obviously across the border, into syria, into iraq, and they really have to be defeated. i would still hope, though, that we could try to aid the free
syria army, because they're the only people in syria, assad's regime is no good. they're the only people in syria that want to see democracy to that poor beleaguered country. >> chairman royce, are you on the same page as congressman engel? >> i am. target them and target the terrorist training camp where they're bringing thousand, from around the world, putting them through training, to teach them how to conduct terrorist activities. those camps and the munitions should be targeted as well. >> chairman and the ranking member of the house foreign affairs committee. congressmen, to both of you, thanks very much for joining us. i want to continue the breaking news coverage. cnn has now confirmed that the american freelance journalist steven sotloff, 31 years old, has been beheaded by isis. apparently the same individual who beheaded james foley, another american freelance journalist in recent days. christiane amanpour is joining us from new york right now.
krichty y christiane, this is going to put pressure on the united states to take direct action, i suspect. >> you're right, the most pressure that's been putin the president so far has been since the execution of james foley a few -- a couple of weeks ago. and of course this is terribly sad, because the mother of steven sotloff, shirley sotloff, just six days ago, as you remember, issued that public plea, videotape plea, to al baghdadi, the leader of isis, to spare her son. she went to great lengths to have read up on the koran, to have understood islam, to, in other own way, shame these people to understand they are not acting in accordance with islam. she begged in desperation for them to spare her son and they haven't. listening to karl penhaul's description, it does beg the question as to when this execution, this second beheading may have taken place. did it take place at the same time at that of james foley?
are they only just announcing it now? it does beg the question, since the aspects to the video, according to karl, almost identical to the one we all saw about a couple of weeks ago. yes, indeed, it puts a lot of pressure on president obama right now, who is off to europe. he's going to estonia. he's going to wales obviously for this nato summit, which is going to be the most consequential nato summit, according to many analysts and experts, since the cold war. this is not only to deal with this unstoppable apparent onslaught by president putin in ukraine threatening europe, but also in desperate search of some kind of strategy to confront isis. even his own top military commanders say you cannot just have a few strikes in iraq against this group. it was born in syria. it is still there. with a safe haven in syria. mostly in the raukef province.
if it is not confronted in syria, it will regroup, replenish and keep going. as you know, it now has a massive swath of territory, a huge size of territory across the syria/iraq border, which it has decided to obliterate. it calls itself the islamic state. it is the first time a terrorist network has actually had what amounts to a state in order to raise armies, to threaten not only the people in the region but the blowback. because of jihadis going from europe and the united states. to threaten those in europe and the united states as well. >> it's a huge, huge development as far as the u.s. is concerned. a second american now beheaded by isis. moments ago, the white house press secretary josh earnest was asked about this latest video. >> i've not seen the reports. that may have just happened in the last few minutes while i've been standing up here. this is something that the administration has obviously been watching very carefully
since this threat against mr mr. sotloff's life was originally made a few weeks ago. our thoughts and prayers are with mr. sotloff and mr. sotloff's family and those who worked with him. the united states, as you know, has dedicated significant time and resources to try and rescue mr. sotloff. i'm not in a position to confirm the authenticity of that video or the reports at this point obviously since i just walked out here. this is -- if there's a video that has been released, it is something that will be analyzed very carefully by the u.s. government. and our intelligence officials to determine its authenticity. >> i'm sure they're taking it very, very close look at the video right now. as we remember when the video of james foley's execution, beheading, was released, it took a while for the u.s. government to assess that, eventual did confirm it was authentic. christiane, you recall, as all of us do, shirley sotloff, the
mother of steven sotloff, in that al arabiya video. she said, as a mother, i ask you to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over. he is an innocent journalist. those words, very poignant. our hearts go out to the sotloff family. clearly had no impact on isis. >> well, it wouldn't, would it. they are who they are. the united nations has put out a devastating and chilling report as to what exactly this group is. amnesty international overnight has done too. basically cataloging the horrors they perpetuate against women, children, men, foreigners as well, particularly in this case against americans. as they seek to put pressure on obama to stop the air strikes that have already been carried out in iraq. now, the amnesty has just put out, as i said, a horrifying catalog of its crimes. calling what it's done, turned
iraq and syria into a blood-soaked field. so these are people who are the not just populated by fanatics, these religious crazies, but they also have a much more sinister and much more ominous component. that is, a very bureaucratic hierarc hierarchy. those who have dealt with researching isis and done their best to figure out who exactly they are see they are not all religious fanatics. they are people who have come from, to a large extent, at least in the hierarchy, saddam hussein's former baath party, former military commanders. there is a very clear structure of command. and talking about, you know, those in charge of isis finances, isis propaganda, isis logistics, isis battlefield strategy. all of that is very, very clear. these are not just insurgents as isis' predecessor, aqi, al qaeda in iraq, was during the bad days of 2004, until the surge under bush and petraeus defeated them
back in 2008. these are now people who operate in a much more organized fashion. certainly taking advantage of their ability to harness social media, so to put forward their propaganda, to perpetuate such violence and brutality that they terrify people on the ground. even if you try to peel away people on the ground from them, they are obviously threatened with beheading, execution, any number of brutal acts if they don't follow isis and isis' rules and regulations. so this is what's being -- what's confronting us as a civilization right now. and it is more than just putting down an insurgency. it is an army in the middle east, in the most vital part of that region. and it threatens, as i said, not just the region, but all of us. this is why the administration is seeking a strategy. and president obama has suffered a lot of criticism for what he said a few days ago, which is
that we have no strategy yet. and people have talked a lot about what that portends and what that actually means. and even senator dianne feinstein, chairman of the senate committee, said, and i'll quote, other this weekend, i've learned one thing about this president, he is very cautious, and maybe in this instance, too cautious. so, what seems to be going on is the administration needs, as the congressman just told you, to latch on to some kind of viable alternative inside syria. which, right now, for better or for worse, is the free syrian army and the moderate opposition, and do, with them, perhaps what they should have done two and three years ago. >> christiane, i want you to stand by. paul cruickshank, our terrorism expert, is here with me in washington. isis, they think these kinds of videotapes, the beheading of the american journalists, is going to help in their effort. it's hard for us to understand
their thinking, but you've studied this. >> yeah, they feel it's going to help them maybe to deter the united states from further action. it's also a message to their supporters. they're saying to them, we're fighting back. this kind of video really energizes them as a real recruiting tool for them, wolf. >> the act of beheading is specific and it's important for these isis terrorists as opposed to just shooting someone, executing them with a machine gun or whatever. they do it deliberately, beheading, because? >> they do it deliberately for maximum propaganda effect. a way to ownenergize their supporters. >> if they think -- jim sciutto's still with us, if they think this is going to deter the united states from taking action, i think it could potentially have exactly the opposite effect. >> i'm not so sure they think it will deter the u.s. for they, a direct confrontation with the u.s. frankly serves their interest. the beheadings, like the air strikes, frankly, have raised isis' profile.
i think this beheading solidifies what this has become. a very direct and very bloody confrontation between isis and the u.s. which, as paul notes, that confrontation with the u.s. not only raises their profile, it makes them a powerful magnet for recruits. if you're standing up to the u.s., as they perceive themselves to be, that, frankly, strengthens them. i think they can, from their perspective, say, as long as you're just hitting us from the air, that's the best you have, we're going to survive, if you're just dropping a bomb on us occasionally here and there. >> you saw, in karl penhaul's report from london, he's actually seen the video. i haven't seen it yet. but he says that, just at the end of james foley's beheading, the first american journalist beheaded by isis, steven sotloff says, you better stop what you're doing because we've got this other guy. now there's a third individual standing there, potentially getting ready to be beheaded as
well. you heard karl penhaul report that. >> that's right. we're not identifying yet the nationality of that other hostage. but clearly they're willing to do this as long as it sort of takes from their point of view. there's also concern there could be other retaliation from isis. notably against u.s. interests in the region. think about jordan, lebanon, turkey, those kinds of countries, where there's significant u.s. interests, where isis has a significant presence and reach, wolf. >> this is an ominous development. i think anna coren is joining us, inside northern iraq, erbil, right now. isis is getting closer and closer to where you are. isis has moved from syria into iraq, has made major gains. i think they've -- one report i saw today said they control a territory with their terrorist army the size of the u.s. state of indiana right now. which is a huge swath of land, as you well know. how worried are the folks where you are, the iraqis, the kurds,
the others, that isis has got some major momentum going? >> yes, wolf, people here are extremely concerned about the advance that isis has made. and it was a lightning advance. certainly over the past few months. until those u.s. air strikes began. it was interesting in this beheading video of steven sotloff, the executioner who we do believe is the same executioner from the james foley video, mentioned the bombings around mosul dam. we have spent a lot of time up in mosul dam over the last couple of weeks. this is a very important piece of infrastructure that was seized back by the peshmerga, the kurdish forces, early last week. isis took it at the beginning of the month. they did so very easily. just walked in. as the iraqis just walked out of the facility and out of mosul city itself back in june. but this sustained air campaign
around mosul dam is what the executioner references. and he says, wolf, that it's because of the bombings continuing in iraq, specifically mosul dam, that is the reason for steven sotloff's beheading. he goes on to say, i'll read you the quote, just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people. obviously referring to that third person that they are currently holding. but this mosul dam area, wolf, it's made up of little hamlets, little towns and villages over vast plains. the tigris river runs through it. the peshmerga forces have been trying extremely hard to push isis out of these areas. but they met a great deal of resistance. we were up there over the weekend. we thought the peshmerga had made much more headway. we were really surprised that is
not the case. we saw the u.s. air strikes happening once we were up there. but we then got reports a bit later on. because we weren't allowed up to the front line. they were very adamant about that. despite the fact we'd been told we would be allowed. there was a hideous attack in which isis militants fill add truck up with explosives and drove it into the front line of the peshmerga, killing many of those kurdish soldiers. this is what we're dealing with in that particular area. that is what that executioner is also referencing in the video, wolf. >> all right, stand by, anna coren in erbil. i want to go back to karl penhaul in london, looking at this videotape. at the end of the videotape, we see a picture of the executioner threatening a third person. we know they beheaded two american journalists now and we're showing that picture to our viewers. are we identifying, karl, this individual right now who's being
threatened potentially for a third execution? >> yes, absolutely, wolf that is the implication from this video, especially if you take it in context with what happened in the last video in which james foley appeared to be executed. that is what the bulk of this video, 2 minutes, 46 seconds, incidentally, does show. the man shown at the end of it, isis themselves in their propaganda video put up a name tag there identifying him as david hawthorne haynes. underneath in parenthesis they say he is british. we're trying to get details about who he is, why he may have been in syria. you'll appreciate that isis is holding a number of hostages, many of them believed to be international. but in some cases, there is a media blackout, cooperation or request to the media perhaps that they don't publish too many
details about captivity in order not to harm efforts to get them out of harm's way. so we don't know a lot about david cawthorne hanes, in line next for execution if the u.s. doesn't carry out what the black-clad executioner tells president obama to do, and that, in very short term, says, obama, back off and leave us alone. also, incidentally, one would have to question why isis are trying to show a possible british hostage right now. this, at a time when the british parliament has just come back from summer vacation and where prime minister cameron is talking about toughening up anti-terrorism measures against radicalism in britain, but also talking about how britain could and may start to back the u.s. campaign against isis in syria and iraq.
also, to another point that christiane rightly brought up. because these are propaganda videos. we have to sift through the information. look to see what may be propaganda, see what is true, see what we can ascertain from these videos. christiane said, may possibly have done this execution, taik place at the same time as the james foley execution. having looked at the video, i can tell you, both executions appear to take place in a desert area or a very dry area with a few tufts of grass here and there. the james foley execution appeared to take place on some elevated piece of ground. this execution appears to take place more in a hollow in the desert. it is also very wriindy. whereas in the james foley execution video, there was a lot less wind noise, only a very slight breeze could be heard on
that video from time to time. so, it does possibly indication that this was a different location. we don't know how far apart. it could be just a few hundred yards apart. possibly a different day. the day steven sotloff seems to have been executed was much windier, wolf. >> . and carl, i want to be precise on the executioner. we don't know for sure the person who beheaded james foley, the executioner is the same who beheaded steven sotloff, although you point out, there are similarities. they are both left-handed and speak with a london british accent. they seem to be the same height. is that right? >> yeah. we have to go right back to the basics. although the british ambassador said that he believed british intelligence services were very close to identifying james
foley's executioner and possibly the fact that he was british, even that has still not been confirmed. certainly on the james foley execution video, the black clad man appeared to be speaking in a southern english accent on this video, too. they are dressed in much the same way, clad in black with a black ski mask. they appear to be of the same height, weight, and stature. both were holding a very similar knife. a combat knife with a serrated knife and they were both waving that in their left hands and were also wearing a weapon, a pistol or machine weapon underneath their left armpit as well. very close similarities between the two executioners on both videos and also in the steven sotloff video that we've been reviewing. it's a video of 2 minutes and 45 seconds.
also on that, the man speaking again in a very distinctive southern english accent. he wants us to believe that it is the same man when we've talked to linguistic experts, they say it sounds like a multicultural british accent. wolf? >> hold on a moment. we've gone through the entire video that's been released by isis and we're going to show our viewers here in the united states and around the world. watch this. >> because of your insistence of bombings, you, obama, for your actions to kill another american citizen and continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people. >> all right. i want to go quickly to the state department, jen psaki, has
been addressing this issue. >> i'm not going to rule options on or off the table. the president has the option to make the decisions. i'm not going to get ahead of where we are. we have been clear that the geography is not going to limit our options but there's no new decisions to announce. >> in relation to the strikes, do we have any kind of figure or data or guide on how much isis' capabilities have been degraded by these strikes? >> i don't have any statics in that regard. >> have you been in touch with mrs. sotloff's family this morning? >> these reports just came out. i'd have to check on that and see. >> i don't know if you saw in the video but they are also threatening to kill a british citizen as well who they say they are holding. do you have any information about him or -- >> i don't have any additional information to provide. if that changes over the course of the afternoon or evening,
we're happy to provide it. >> and have you been in contact -- i know it's just happening but have you already been in contact with your counterparts in london on this? >> again, this happened in the last -- the reports came out publicly in the last 30 minutes or so. i would have to check and see if there's been contact. i'm certain one of the first calls would be to the uk, which wouldn't be a surprise. >> what is the legal authority under which president obama has launched the more than 100 air strikes that you've just referenced. >> in iraq? well, the iraqi government has invited the united states in to help them address -- >> there's jen psaki reacting to the horrible news that journalist steven sotloff has been beheaded. real quickly, they say they are holding a third person, a british person identified as david haines. do we know anything about this individual? >> we don't know anything about this individual but it's very, very worrying, wolf, given to what has happened to the other
two hostages. >> bob baer, a cnn intelligence analyst, is joining us. give us your quick reaction. this is awful news. this seems that isis is being emboldened right now. not only did they behead steven sotloff but they say they are going to continue on with a british citizen. >> i think they are trying to characterize themselves war against the west and they will keep going if they have to continue to have losses in iraq, as they have in the last couple of days, they will come back at us. they are looking to become an international movement, a caliphate and i still believe they can hit us in the united states and whether there is specific planning or not, that's where we're headed. >> when you say that they are planning on hitting the united states, give us a little bit more analysis why you think
that's a credible threat. they seem to be -- they have their hands full of syria and iraq right now. >> reporter: they have their hands now but they are gaining international stature. there are a bunch of arrests in saudi arabia, they are swearing allegiance to this so-called caliphate. they are going international. they are taking the victims right now but their long-term plans are to cover the entire islamic world and i don't see how as we get more engaged with this war in iraq that they won't come back at us. and i've been assured that isis does have cells in the united states. they don't know what they are planning but this is from tactical intelligence and i trust these people, you know. is it five years off, i can't tell you. i can tell you where this conflict is headed. >> it's a dangerous situation. jim sciutto, we've heard from the u.s. officials. they suspect there are hundreds of europeans who have
volunteered to go fight with isis and may be as many as 100 americans who have actually gone to syria to fight with isis as well. >> that's right. 100 to various extremist groups in syria, perhaps a dozen with isis. the fact is, they don't know the hard numbers for sure. it's something they are getting a handle on. to bob's point, i agree with him. a direct confrontation with the u.s. frankly serves isis' profile here. as intimidating as american military power is, this has raised their profile. >> and paul, you've studied this. you believe that when they post a video, that this executioner beheading an american journalist, that helps their recruitment of other westerners. it's hard for us to accept that, but that's what they believe. >> it absolutely does. i've spoken to people, former jihadis were who energized by this. one word of caution.
isis has never gotten directly involved in plotting against the west. they may decide not to do that for some time because, if they do, then they invite a much greater united states response in the region. they have a big project over there building their caliphate. they may decide not to go the full hog. >> do you agree, bob -- we don't have bob on anymore. jim shut he ciutto, do you agre puts greater pressure on the president of the united states to take direct action? >> we saw the pressure they put on james foley, congress' attention on this issue, clearly putting pressure, as well as another potential for other westerners to be killed down the line. >> and it comes at a time just before the president meets with all of the nato allies. they are going to talk about ukraine, obviously, but now they have to come up with some sort of nato strategy in dealing with
this threat. >> the president said that he's sending john kerry to the middle east, not just nato members but the saudi arabia generals, turkeys to work together on this threat and there's no better way to focus their attention but also the west's attention than the potential of this threat coming home. >> very quickly, you see other sunni arab nations, like saudi arabia, getting more directly involved in fighting ooisis? >> they have a real interest in here. >> the question is, is saudi arabia going to do something about it? >> that would be quite something. >> the question.
>> who is going to make that sacrifice? very open question. >> we're going to continue the breaking news coverage. a journalist beheaded by isis. i'll be back at 5:00 p.m. with another special edition of "the situation room." our coverage continues now with brooke baldwin. hi there. i'm brooke baldwin. we have breaking news to bring you at this moment. according to an isis video released today, the terrorist group has beheaded another american, steven sotloff. in the video, which is entitled a second message to america, it appears to show the brutal execution of the 31-year-old journalist. sotloff disappeared while reporting in syria last year. just two weeks two ago, isis