In what is becoming an increasingly public negotiation over the fate of an American journalist, the mother of Steven J. Sotloff, who is being held by the terrorist group Islamic State, released a video Wednesday pleading for his release.
Shirley Sotloff appears in a professionally produced video and speaks directly to Abu Bakr Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State.
“As a mother I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over,” she says. “I ask you to use your authority to spare his life … .”
Steven J. Sotloff, a freelance journalist captured more than a year ago, appeared at the end of a video released last week by the Islamic State that showed the death of another journalist, James Foley. In the video, a black-hooded terrorist forces Sotloff to kneel, grabs his collar and declares, “The life of this American citizen, Obama, depends on your next decision.”
Authorities are attempting to track down the man in the video, who they say has an accent that indicates he is from London.
There had been a news blackout on Sotloff, but the video released last week initiated a flurry of interest in his case. Shirley Sotloff had not spoken much about his disappearance. In the new video, she is using the same medium as his captors to communicate.
Also Wednesday, Peter Theo Curtis, 45, who was released Sunday from captivity in Syria, spoke briefly to reporters outside his mother’s home in Cambridge, Mass. Curtis was being held by al-Qaida-linked captors in Syria; his release was negotiated by the Qatari government.
The negotiations over his release were done behind closed doors, he said.
“There have been literally hundreds of people — brave, determined and big-hearted people all over the world, working for my release,” he said. “They’ve been working two years on this. I had no idea when I was in prison — I had no idea that so much effort was being expended on my behalf.”
Curtis said he needed some time to bond with his mother and his family, but that he would talk to reporters and tell his story at a later date.