ORLANDO, Fla. - The Iraqi insurgent group ISIS released a video threatening to behead a man they identified as Stephen Sotloff, a former University of Central Florida journalism major.
Sotloff is seen in the same video that claims to show the beheading of journalist James Foley.
Local 6 confirmed with UCF that a student named Steven Sotloff did attend the Orlando university from 2002 to 2004. He was also a writer for the Central Florida Future, the school's paper.
"This is an unspeakably terrible circumstance. We join so many others who hope for Steven's safe return," said Grant J. Heston, vice president for communications and marketing.
In the video, Sotloff is dressed in an orange jumpsuit and is being held by a militant dressed from head to toe in black clothing.
His college roommate, Emerson Lotzia, said Sotloff went missing last year, and he never imagined he'd see him in an ISIS video.
"It was spooky to me," Lotzia said. "I was shocked. I didn't think it was real at first and I never thought in my wildest dreams I would know somebody who is in this situation."
A freelance photojournalist covering the suffering in Syria, Sotloff started his career at UCF writing for the Central Florida Future when he was a student there 12 years ago.
He covered breaking news, but was particularly interested in politics.
"We were all taken aback when he talked about wanting to go to the Middle East and tell stories and do his thing over there. This is definitely very hard for all of us who know him and the entire UCF community," said Lotzia.
Both Sotloff and Foley disappeared while covering events in Syria.
A petition started on the White House website asks for President Obama to "do everything possible to free American reporter Steven Sotloff from ISIS in Syria and save his life."
Sotloff's family is hoping to get 100,000 signatures on the petition by mid-September.
Watch Local 6 News and stay with ClickOrlando.com for updates on this developing story.
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