Steven Sotloff
Steven SotloffSITE

With the beheading of another American journalist, the focus is back on the Obama administration that has been warned by the Islamic State to stop airstrikes in Iraq. The militant outfit, that has purportedly beheaded US journalist Steven Sotloff, has sent out a chilling warning to the US saying, "Just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people".

US President Barack Obama had ordered airstrikes in Iraq against the Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, as they were closing in on the town of Irbil where several American diplomats and personnel are based.

Following airstrikes by the US military, the Islamic State issued a grisly video two weeks ago of the beheading of American photojournalist James Foley, in which they had warned Obama that they would kill Sotloff next if he failed to respond to their demands.

The United States, however, did not draw back from Iraq and only escalated their attacks, thus perhaps leading to the death of another American at the hands of the militants.

The second video released on Tuesday, is now reported to have put pressure on Obama to order military strikes in Syria as well, just a week after he had said that the US had "not formulated a strategy" for using military force against the IS militants in Syria.

But the pressure is already building on Obama from within the administration to retaliate against the group in Syria as well.

Senator Bill Nelson, a Florida Democrat and member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, has stated that he will introduce a bill to give Obama the authority to order airstrikes in Syria, The New York Times reported.

Senior Democratic member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Eliot Engel too said that US should launch airstrikes in Syria and arm the Free Syrian Army opposition forces.

After the release of the second video, he said, "This is exactly the reason why we have to go after ISIS (Islamic State), why we cannot just let them wreak havoc," as quoted by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Obama, who has left for Europe for a NATO meeting in the face of the Ukraine crisis under Russia, will now have to take tough decisions and some experts feel the 'pressure' to act could affect policy decisions.

"That pressure is often the enemy of good policy. There will be a clamour for the President to take military action, which may not be effective. If he conducts airstrikes and does not get the desired effect, there'll be pressure for more airstrikes, and then to put boots on the ground," Daniel J. Benjamin, a former State Department counterterrorism coordinator, told The New York Times.

It is also expected that the United Kingdom will now join the US in full force to target the IS militants in Iraq and probably also in Syria, given that the next victim could be British national David Haines, who was shown in the Sotloff beheading video.

Several Americans and other nationals are believed to be held hostage by the IS, and their fate could depend on Obama's policy decisions.