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Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Murdered journalist was Israeli citizen, risked life to practice Judaism in captivity UPDATED

Journalist Stephen Sotloff, who was murdered by ISIS on Tuesday, was a dual Israeli-US citizen, who risked his life in captivity to fast on Yom Kippur and to recite Jewish prayers.

Sotloff made Aliyah and studied at the IDC. Little information regarding his time in Israel is known, and after he was captured in Syria it seems any connection to Israel was deleted from his online presence in a bid to prevent the information reaching his captors.

National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden announced the US intelligence community's assessment of the video in a statement Wednesday.

Colleagues and acquaintances recalled Sotloff as a generous man fascinated by journalism and the changes gripping the Middle East, and determined to tell stories from the perspective of average people, not army movements on the battlefield.

A friend who was with Sotloff in captivity told Ynet's sister-print publication Yedioth Aharonoth that Sotloff was Jewish - a fact he hid from his captors - and even managed to observe the Yom Kippur fast while in Islamic State captivity.

"He told them he was sick and doesn’t want to eat, even though we were served eggs that day," the friend said. "He used to pray secretly in the direction of Jerusalem. He would see in which direction (his Muslim captors) were praying and then adjust the angle."


Sotloff, a 31-year-old Miami-area native who freelanced for Time and Foreign Policy magazines, vanished in Syria in August 2013 and was not seen again until he appeared in a video released last month that showed Foley's beheading.  


Just how Sotloff made his way from Florida to Middle East hotspots is not clear. He published articles from Syria, Egypt and Libya in a variety of publications. Several focus on the plight of ordinary people in war-torn places. 
One individual familiar with the case said the family's theory had been that Sotloff was grabbed by a criminal gang, and later transferred or "sold" to Islamic State. This could not be confirmed by his family, which declined interview requests. 
Preparing for the trip to Syria, Sotloff reportedly asked a fellow reporter in June 2013: "What type of lawlessness in Aleppo? Should I keep my eyes open for anything regarding safety?"
"Can you meet with ISI," he asked, using an earlier acronym for Islamic State. "And the quality of life? Is there still plenty of food available? Gas?" 
In a statement, Foreign Policy magazine called him a "brave and talented journalist" whose reporting "showed a deep concern for the civilians caught in the middle of a brutal war."
Time Editor Nancy Gibbs said Sotloff "gave his life so readers would have access to information from some of the most dangerous places in the world."
Given that that Sotloff's Judaism was widely publicized after Foley was beheaded, I find it hard to believe that ISIS did not know Sotloff was Jewish.  Therefore, the acronym HY"D (May God Avenge his blood) seems to fit here. 


Much more detail about Sotloff's time in Israel and his contacts with Israeli journalists here.

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At 4:52 PM, Blogger Empress Trudy said...

Well that's it then. Obama, the NYT, CNN and MSNBC have just switched sides to ISIS. Obama will announce that since they're 'practically a state' we may as well officially bless them with one. Next up, Obama's sponsorship of ISIS at the UN.


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