Where is your mercy? Sotloff family challenges ISIS

Miami - The family of Steven Sotloff, the second American journalist beheaded by Islamic State militants, said on Wednesday he was "a gentle soul", and challenged the group's leader to a debate on the peaceful teachings of the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

The group, which has captured territory in Syria and Iraq, released a video on Tuesday of Sotloff being beheaded. US officials confirmed its authenticity on Wednesday. President Barack Obama vowed to "degrade and destroy" the group.

Barak Barfi, a friend of Sotloff who is serving as family spokesperson, began a prepared statement from the family in English, remembering the slain journalist as a fan of American football who enjoyed junk food, the television series South Park and talking to his father about golf.

The 31-year-old Sotloff was "torn between two worlds", the statement said, but "the Arab world pulled him".

"He was no war junkie... He merely wanted to give voice to those who had none," Barfi said outside the family's one-storey home in a leafy Miami suburb.


Barfi ended the statement with off-the-cuff remarks in Arabic, saying "Steve died a martyr for the sake of God."

He then challenged Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to debate Islam, saying, "Woe to you. You said the month of Ramadan is the month of mercy. Where is your mercy?"

"God does not love the aggressor," added Barfi, who is an Arabic scholar and research fellow at the New America Foundation think tank in Washington.

He went on, "I am ready to debate you with kind preachings. I have no sword in my hand and I am ready for your answer."

The other American hostage killed in recent weeks in retaliation for US air strikes against Islamic State forces in Iraq was journalist James Foley, who was shown being beheaded in a video released on 19 August.

Sotloff was a freelance journalist who travelled the Middle East writing for the magazines Time and Foreign Policy, among others.

No hero

"Steve was no hero," the family said in its statement.

"Like all of us, he was a mere man who tried to find good concealed in a world of darkness. And if it did not exist, he tried to create it. He always sought to help those less privileged than himself, offering career services and precious contacts to newcomers in the region."

Sotloff was kidnapped in Syria in August 2013 after he drove across the border from Turkey.

He grew up in the Miami area and studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. A spokesperson for Israel's foreign ministry said on social media website Twitter that Sotloff also was an Israeli citizen.

Sotloff "yearned for a tranquil life where he could enjoy Miami Dolphins games on Sunday", his family said.

"This week we mourn," it added. "But we will emerge from this ordeal ... We will not allow our enemies to hold us hostage with the sole weapon they possess - fear."

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Cinta Erasmus 2014/09/04 07:27:20 AM
Condolences, why do the voices that tell your story need to die.
Akhenaten 2014/09/04 07:34:21 AM
Quran, Muslims, Al Queda, ISIS. Will someone please explain.
Jörg Gürtler 2014/09/04 07:35:46 AM
ISIS you will be destroyed, as is written in the god book, your flag and attire is as demonic as you are, extremism has never survived the will of the people, not in any form or through any war.Justice will be served and you WILL be brought to heel, Abu Bakker al Bagdadi you and your barbarians will burn in hell.
UNITY 2014/09/04 07:39:47 AM
Those of the muslim faith should take global stand and create more global awareness on such barbaric acts.show the world what your faith truly means. Surely cutting off peoples heads is not the way!!!
Nkululeko Page Ngwenya 2014/09/04 07:40:33 AM
I read about the ISIS, Boko Haram and all else and wonder what makes these terrorists see that as a dignified route. The war you wage is not holy, murder of civilians is not freedom fighting, killing is not saving! History does depict some of your communities having been wronged decades ago; but get political representation, don't take up arms!!
Candice Konstantellos 2014/09/04 07:45:10 AM
Love and light.
Lorraine Groothuijzen 2014/09/04 07:45:22 AM
Their barbarism speaks of evil personified. They know no mercy. Hiding their faces whilst beheading a human being will not hide it from God Almighty. No man has the right to take another's life. Satan dwells amongst those he can use.
Pienaar Jordaan 2014/09/04 07:48:07 AM
Ubuntu, you show your lack of knowledge! If Israel showed Hamas style mercy, Hamas would be gone by know. 18 + slayings of fellow Palestinians without trail shows Islam style mercy, killing of Israeli teenagers to start a conflict with Israel, shows Islam style mercy! Investigate with an open mind and see the facts for yourself in stead of simply following propaganda. When last did you see a video recording of Israel beheading somebody; OH I remember: Never!
TX 2014/09/04 07:48:34 AM
The IS are just sick animals, Obama is correct when he says they can't be deterred by their senseless killing of these people whom I don't know what were they doing there in the 1st place.
Martin Pienaar 2014/09/04 08:01:32 AM
The "Peaceful" (I love you to DEATH!!!) Faith.... What a big joke they are.