The foreign secretary said the government will explore “every possible option” to protect the British hostage, who was first publicly identified in a video released on Tuesday showing the execution of American journalist Steven Sotloff.
Hammond said the British hostage, who is not being named in the UK at the request of his family, was the subject of a failed rescue attempt earlier this year.
This is the full statement Hammond gave to broadcasters:
Our preliminary analysis is that this video is genuine, that it is Mr Sotloff and that it appears to be the same person with an apparently British voice that appeared in the last video. Obviously our thoughts are with the family and friends of Mr Sotloff. And we’re doing everything we can to reassure the family of the British hostage shown in the video.
It can’t allow us to change our overall strategy. We’ve been aware of this hostage for some time but we have to deal with IS on the basis of the wider threat that they pose to the British public as well to this individual.
You’re aware of the rescue attempt that took place some time ago, unfortunately unsuccessfully. You wouldn’t expect me to discuss the various options that we will be considering but I assure you we will look at every possible option to protect this person.
It doesn’t make any difference at all to our strategic planning. We will look at all the options available to us to support the legitimate government of Iraq and Kurdistan in defending themselves against the threat from ISIL.
“If we judge that airstrikes would be beneficial then we would certainly consider them. But we’ve made no decision to do at the moment.