Militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isis) have released a video claiming to show the beheading of American journalist Steven Sotloff and threatening a British hostage with a similar fate if the US continues air strikes against its forces.
At the end of the new clip, an Isis fighter parades a third hostage, identified as a British man, and threatens to behead him unless Western governments “back off” from the “evil alliance of America against the Islamic State”.
The warning that a UK hostage could be the next to be murdered – and suggestions that Mr Sotloff’s killer could also be British – will increase pressure on David Cameron to order the RAF to join US forces in attacking Isis militants in Iraq and even Syria.
He is poised to chair a Cobra meeting to discuss Britain’s response to the threat.
The Prime Minister, who has not ruled out military strikes but until now has restricted operations to humanitarian missions for ethnic and religious minorities being targeted by the militants in Iraq, called the latest killing and its recording “an absolutely disgusting and despicable act”.