Vice President Joe Biden said the U.S. will follow the Islamic State “to the gates of hell,” in some of the toughest words from the administration since the confirmed beheading of a second American journalist in less than a month.

Speaking at the Portsmouth Navy Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, Wednesday, Biden memorialized Steven Sotloff, the journalist killed in an Islamic State video released Tuesday, and gave a dark warning to the terror group, saying that if “they think the American people will be intimidated, they don’t know us very well.”

“The American people are so much stronger, so much more resolved than any enemy can fully understand,” Biden said. “As a nation, we are united, and when people harm Americans we don’t retreat, we don’t forget. We take care of those who are grieving and when that’s finished, they should know, we will follow them to the gates of hell until they are brought to justice, because hell is where they will reside. Hell is where they will reside.”

Biden’s defiant words come amid criticism of President Barack Obama for not being strong enough in condemning the Sunni militant group. Following the beheading of American journalist James Foley, Obama told reporters that the U.S. did not yet have a strategy to deal with the Islamic State. After Sotloff’s execution was confirmed, Obama vowed the U.S. would “destroy” the Islamic State, but also appeared to backpedal and say it could be made a “manageable problem.”

(H/T: BuzzFeed)

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