CARDIFF, Wales — President Obama is “aware” of the gruesome videotaped executions of two American journalists in Syria at the hands of Islamic State militants but does not want to “put a spotlight” on them with his attention, a senior Obama foreign policy adviser told ABC News.
Asked whether the president has seen the messages directly addressed to him in the videos showing the beheading of Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff, Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Obama is “not interested.”
“The president is not interested in lifting up, essentially, the propaganda efforts of a completely barbaric terrorist organization like this,” Rhodes told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl. “He is certainly aware of the horrific, horrific way in which these two Americans were taken from us. … What he wants to do is make sure justice is done.”
Both Foley and Sotloff are seen on tape in orange jumpsuits, with a black-cloaked executioner standing by the side, addressing Obama directly in words delivered under duress and seeming aimed at appeasing their captors.
“To deny the Muslims their right to live in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people,” Foley said moments before being murdered.
Sotloff said, “Obama, your foreign policy of intervention in Iraq was supposed to be for preservation of American lives and interests, so why is it that I am paying the price of your interference with my life?”
The videos, verified as authentic by the White House and intelligence community, have been removed from many social media outlets. The families of the victims have appealed for them not to be viewed or shown.
“What we don’t want to do is put a spotlight on these videos, which are essentially horrific accounts of acts of terror and, frankly, horrific propaganda for an organization that has nothing to offer the world except death and destruction,” Rhodes told Karl.
Rhodes declined to say definitively whether Obama has or has not seen the videos firsthand.