Inside SITE Intelligence Group: Steven Sotloff Beheading Discovered By Nonprofit Research Organization

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ISIS has allegedly beheaded Steven Joel Sotloff, the American journalist who appeared in the terrorist group’s propaganda video of James Foley’s beheading two weeks ago. In the first video, the executioners threatened Sotloff would meet the same fate if the U.S. military did not comply with the terrorists’ demands.

The U.S. didn’t. ISIS appears to have followed through.

The video was first obtained by SITE Intelligence Group (Search for International Terrorist Entities), also known as SITE Intel Group, a relatively under-the-radar yet apparently very powerful nonprofit research body that monitors jihadist movements. The Bethesda, Maryland, organization has published a shortened version of the beheading video and published a transcript on its news site, which has been largely inaccessible since news of the beheading broke, likely due to an uptick in Web traffic.

A description of SITE Intelligence Group on its Facebook page says its blog, INSITE, focuses on “all dimensions of extremism in the 21st century:  jihadism, white supremacy movements, hacker threats and everything in between. … All articles posted to the blog are intended to elevate the discussion regarding extremist threats — transcending the conversational buzz and shining light on the greater factors at stake.” Among its products for sale is SITE Monitoring Service, which provides its subscribers — government and commercial entities — “immediate and timely translations of the most important jihadist material published.”

SITE made the decision to publish the video of Sotloff’s beheading when numerous mainstream news outlets in possession of it declined to do so, likely influenced by the overwhelming negative public reaction to the sharing of video and still images of Foley’s beheading, which quickly and inescapably proliferated on social media before YouTube and Twitter removed them.  The authenticity of the video obtained by SITE Intel Group has yet to be explicitly confirmed, but the White House released a statement Tuesday afternoon expressing “deepest condolences” for the “brutal murder of an innocent American journalist.”

SITE Intelligence Group is an incarnation of the SITE Institute, founded in 2002 by former Investigative Project colleagues Rita Katz and Josh Devon. Katz remains the executive director of the SITE Intelligence Group. Her bio says she is fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, having..

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