ELEANOR HALL: The Obama administration is calling the apparent
execution of a second US journalist by an Islamic State militant sickening and
President Barack Obama now says he'll send his most senior officials to the region to build a stronger partnership against the jihadist group.
This morning, Prime Minister Tony Abbott also condemned the horrific killing of the journalist Steven Sotloff.
The US intelligence community is working to authenticate the video, but Steven Sotloff's parents say they believe their son has been killed.
North America correspondent Jane Cowan reports.
JANE COWAN: Most Americans will never see the video, TV networks deciding not to air it and YouTube blocking it in a bid to deny the militants the propaganda tool.
But it's called A Second Message to America and it's chilling, not only because a second innocent American journalist has been killed and in such a brutal manner.
The broader fear for Americans is whether the group will ultimately stage an attack in Europe or on US soil.
BOB BAER: Oh I think they're trying to characterise themselves as a war against the west, and they will keep going.
JANE COWAN: National security analyst, Bob Baer.
BOB BAER: I do believe, I still believe they can hit us in the United States and whether there's specific planning or not, that's where we're heading.
They're taking the easy victims right now but their long term plans are to cover the entire Islamic world, and I just don't see how, if we get more engaged in this war in Iraq, that they won't come back at us.
And I've been assured by authorities here, ISIS does have cells in the United States. They don't know what they're planning but this is from tactical intelligence and I trust these people.
Is it a year off, five years off, I can't tell you. I just, I can tell you where this conflict is heading.
JANE COWAN: The masked executioner, clad in black and brandishing a knife, appears to be the same British-accented man who appeared in the videotaped killing of journalist James Foley.
It's a similar desert setting and both men wear orange jumpsuits.
There's been speculation the killing could have happened on the same day as the murder of James Foley.
But Steven Sotloff does appear to have more hair and a beard, compared to his clean shaven appearance in the earlier video.
The killer also refers to recent events on the ground in Iraq.
In the video, Steven Sotloff says he's paying the price for the Obama administration's decision to strike Islamic State targets in Iraq.
But the killing increases the pressure on Barack Obama to expand the US air strikes from Iraq to Syria, where the Islamic State has its power base.
It's something the president's so far shown little appetite for - he last week drew criticism for saying he had no strategy for going after the militants inside Syria.
Former ambassador and White House advisor on the Middle East, Marc Ginsberg, says the US doesn't have to send troops to Syria but America can and should provide leadership.
MARC GINSBERG: You have Kurdish forces as well as Turkish capacity and Iraqi military forces that have helped us recapture the Mosul Dam.
We've provided air support for this. We can continue to provide the air support that is necessary and the counter-terrorism support.
Gee, after all, the president authorised a strike against al Shabaab's leader yesterday and he's been doing this all along.
The broader problem involves John Kerry and the State Department.
Mr Kerry has spent far too much time outside the theatre of Arab-Israeli negotiations, and in China and other places, instead of spending his time in Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Turkey to forge a coalition that can come back to say to the president, to the American people, we're prepared to put the boots on the ground if you're prepared to put the socks in the air.
We got boots on the ground at Fat Mo's but we are heading to Sam's for a cold beer and pizza.
JANE COWAN: Steven Sotloff's killer uses the video to threaten a third captive, a British man he says is the next in line to be killed.
At least two other Americans are believed to be held by the militants.
In Washington this is Jane Cowan reporting for The World Today.