Tag Archives: Steven Sotloff

US Government Denies Threatening Foley Family

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough denied accusations that the families of murdered journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff were threatened with prosecution if ransom was paid to terrorists to free the men.

Last week, Diane Foley, the mother of executed journalist James Foley, told the media that the federal government threatened to file lawsuits against her and her family if they raised money to pay the ransom for their son. Following Diane Foley’s claims, the family of Sotloff corroborated their story and said that they had faced the same threats from the government.

On Sunday McDonough gave several interviews to media outlets advocating the Obama administration’s strategies for fighting the Islamic State and denied that threats were made against the families. “We didn’t threaten anybody, but we made clear what the law is. That’s our responsibility to make sure we explain the law and uphold the law,” said McDonough.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said “It’s part of our job to help the family understand what our laws are about terrorists paying – or paying ransom to terrorists? Absolutely. But this Department would never and did not ever intend to nor do we think we ever did anything that we would consider threatening.”

McDonough and Harf made the denials despite ABC News reporting that five officials connected to Foley’s case confirmed that threats were made.

Sotloff family says their son was sold to ISIS prior to beheading

A family spokesman for the Sotloff family is now saying their son Steven, who was the second American journalist to be beheaded on film by ISIS, was sold to the Islamic State by moderate rebels in the Middle-East.

“For the first time we can say Steven was sold at the (Syrian) border,” said Sotloff family representative and research fellow at the New American Foundation, Barak Barfi, according to CBS News.  “We believe these so-called moderate rebels that people want our administration to support- one of them sold him probably for something between $25,000 and $50,000 and that was the reason he was captured.”

Barfi also says he received a phone call from Sotloff, before he was kidnapped, from inside the Syrian border.  According to RT, Barfi says “sources on the ground” are pointing to rebel forces who opposed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as hose responsible for tipping off members of ISIS to their capture and willingness to sell Sotloff.

These moderate rebels who captured Sotloff and have been waging this war against al-Assad have reportedly received support from the U.S. in the form of weapons and training to support their opposition to al-Assad.  A report from the research group Conflict Armament Research has also said the weapons, which have been given to the moderate Syrian rebels, have ended up in the hands of ISIS fighters across the region.

After making these statements, Barfi said the relationship between the Sotloff family and President Obama’s administration has been strained and tense.

They (the administration) said that these hostages were moved frequently,” Barfi told CNN.  ” We know that for most of the beginning of part of this year they were stationary. We know that the intelligence community and the White House are enmeshed in a larger game of bureaucratic infighting and Jim and Steve are pawns in that game and that’s not fair.”

“We need to be able to work closer with our allies,” Barfi said, according to the International Business Times. “Intelligence sharing and cooperation just isn’t as good as it should be.”

ISIS has released a second video, supposedly showing the beheading of another American journalist

Following through with a threat made two weeks ago after the beheading of American journalist James Foley, ISIS has reportedly beheaded a second American journalist covering Iraq and Syria.

Steven Sotloff is the second American journalist to be executed publicly by ISIS after the group has demanded American airstrikes against the terror group and their controlled lands to cease.  ISIS released a video of the beheading, similar to that of the video showing the execution of James Foley, but the video is currently being analyzed for authenticity.

Sotloff, 31, was a graduate of the University of Central Florida and wrote for TIME as well as other publications.  According to NBC News, he went missing in Syria in August 2013.

This news comes one week after Sotloff’s mother, Shirley Sotloff, released her own video pleading to ISIS for the release of her son from captivity.  “I want what every mother wants,”  she said in the video, “to live to see her children’s children. I plead with you to grant me this.”

The video from ISIS reportedly shows Sotloff, dressed in an orange jumpsuit similar to the one Foley had worn, while a man in a black mask says, according to the Guardian, “I’m back,” signalling this may be the same masked man who had executed Foley.

After the execution of Sotloff, the video ends with the killer demanding an end to the American airstrikes, while showing another kneeling hostage.  Some sources are reporting this other hostage is a British citizen named David Cawthorne Haines.

President Obama said after the beheading of Foley that he and his administration were appalled by the video, while also saying the violence “shocks the conscience.”  According to the Hill, Obama also said, “We will be vigilant and we will be relentless.  When people harm Americans anywhere, we do what is necessary to make sure justice is done.”