Steven Sotloff, an American journalist who’s life is in peril at the hands the Islamic State militia known as ISIS, was a relative unknown as a missing member of the media until recently. Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013 while on assignment for Time magazine. The journalist was last heard from in Syria shortly after crossing into the country from Turkey.
Sotloff’s family wanted to keep the disappearance quite. The idea was that by keeping his disappearance quiet, Sotloff may not be valued as a bargaining chip, hopefully keeping him safe. However, after the video released by ISIS showing the killing of American journalist James Foley showed that Sotloff was indeed alive and was a captive of the Islamic State, there was little the family could do.
In the video, Sotloff was shown dressed in an orange jumpsuit, kneeling in front of a man dressed all in black. The video indicated that Foley’s death was due to U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic group and if President Barak Obama did not cease the strikes and pull U.S. troops completely out of Iraq, Sotloff could be next.
From Florida, Sotloff’s family has asked for privacy and declined interview requests from the media. However, along with some of Sotloff’s friends, his family started a White House petition asking Obama to do all that he can do to rescue the American journalist who’s life is in peril. So far, 7,336 people had signed that petition.
Prior to being captured, Sotloff tweeted about the Miami Heat and center Greg Oden. Then his twitter account went silent. For years the 31-year-old reporter had been working as a freelancer in the Middle East. Working with the Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy, Time Magazine, World Affairs Journal and the Daily Caller, which had taken him all over the region including Egypt and Yemen. Like Foley, Sotloff knew the risks that his job entailed, but loved what he was doing.
The day after the video was released showing Sotloff’s life being threatened, President Obama stated that the entire world was “appalled” by the actions of ISIS. After the President had addressed the nation, the U.S. military made an announcement that it would continue the air campaign against ISIS targets. This move by the U.S. Government may be seen as defiance towards the militants and force their hand against Sotloff and the United States.
Sotloff is a pure war correspondent. The journalist was drawn to stories in the region that were the most volatile, regardless of the dangers. He loves the area, and is passionate in his coverage of the conflicts, people and regions of the Middle East. During the U.S. Embassy attack in Benghazi, Libya in 2012, Sotloff appeared on Fox News with interviews of the Embassy compound guards and his personal accounts of the happenings going on.
While Sotloff is not the first journalist kidnapped, the appearance of the American in the ISIS video of Foley’s execution has put him and the peril he is facing in the forefront. Whether the U.S. continues the bombings of ISIS or sends in a special forces group in to attempt a rescue is unknown. Sotloff has never worked with the Guardian Liberty Voice, he is a colleague of journalists worldwide. Guardian Liberty Voice would like to see the safe return of Sotloff to his friends and family, and all missing members of the media. Guardian Liberty Voice will continue coverage of his ordeal as more information becomes available.
By Carl Auer