Hostage’s mother makes emotional plea to Islamic State for the release of her son, Steven Sotloff

The mother of Steven J. Sotloff, an American journalist who was captured last year by the Islamic State, has made a video plea to the head of the terrorist organization asking for her son’s release.

In a video released Wednesday, Shirley Sotloff asks Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to “please release my child. And as a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over.”

Steven Sotloff was covering the civil war in Syria and is said to have been kidnapped after entering northern Syria from Turkey on Aug. 4, 2013, The Post has reported. Until recently, Sotloff’s family has been publicly quiet about his kidnapping in the hopes that public silence might keep him safe.

But Sotloff, a Florida native, appeared at the end of the video execution of journalist James Foley. In that brutal video, a hooded extremist with a British accent criticizes the airstrikes in Iraq that President Obama authorized  Aug. 7. The man said Sotloff’s life would depend on Obama’s next decision.

In her video plea, Shirley Sotloff said that her 31-year-old son “traveled to the Middle East to cover the suffering of Muslims at the hands of tyrants. Steven is a loyal and generous son, brother and grandson. He is an honorable man and has always tried to help the weak.”

She continued: “Since Steven’s capture, I’ve learned a lot about Islam. I’ve learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others. Steven has no control over the actions of the U.S. government. He’s a journalist. I’ve also learned that you, the caliph, can grant amnesty.”

Shirley Sotloff ends the video by telling Baghdadi, the self-declared caliph of the Islamic State spanning parts of Syria and Iraq: “I want what every mother wants: I want to live to see her children’s children. I plead with you to grant me this.”

Elahe Izadi is a general assignment national reporter for The Washington Post.
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