Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and four others proposed legislation Monday that would offer a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture or conviction of the Islamic State members responsible for the execution of two U.S. journalists who were beheaded in the last few weeks.
The bill authorizes the State Department to offer money under the Rewards for Justice program to "any individual who furnishes information leading to the arrest or conviction in any country" of anyone involved in the execution of U.S. journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. Up to $5 million could be awarded for information related to the death of either one.
This still image from an undated video released by Islamic State militants on Tuesday, Aug. 19, 2014, purports to show journalist Steven Sotloff being held by the militant group. The Islamic State group executed Sotloff, as well as another U.S. journalist, James Foley. (AP Photo)
Rubio's office noted that the Rewards for Justice program has paid out more than $125 million in rewards to 80 people since its founding in 1984, and said a reward needs to be offered to quickly find those responsible for the brutal, videotaped execution of the two reporters.
"James Foley and Steven Sotloff nobly risked their lives in the pursuit of truth, and the United States will not stand idly by after two of its own were brutally murdered at the hands of fundamentally evil and freedom-hating extremists," Rubio said. "This bill is a symbol of our commitment to their parents that America will not rest until justice is served."
President Barack Obama has said the U.S. would be "relentless" in pursuing justice against the Islamic State, but Republicans in particular have questioned whether the administration is doing enough to rein in the terrorist group's activities.
And while government officials have hinted that they could be considering operations to conduct operations to enter Syria and extract those involved in the death of the two reporters, it's not clear how long that will take. It took the government nearly 10 years to find and kill Osama bin Laden, who was killed in a CIA operation in 2011.
Offering reward money is one possible way to speed up the process, and the idea is supported by members of both parties in the Senate. The bipartisan bill is sponsored by Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.).
"James and Steven contributed greatly to the world through their reporting, and we must vigorously pursue those responsible for their murders," Shaheen said.
"There could be no better use for the Rewards for Justice program than the capturing or killing of these savage Jihadists who will only keep trying to destroy Americans until we stop them," said Cruz.