President Barack Obama called the Islamic State’s execution of journalist Steven Sotloff, “a horrific act of violence.” Moreover the spokesman for the family of murdered American journalist directly and personally challenged the leader of the ISIS jihadist group to debate the peaceful teachings of the Koran.
The spokesman, Barack Barfi, released a statement Wednesday explaining the fact that the Sotloff family will not “allow our enemies to hold us hostage with the one weapon they possess: fear.” The statement ended with a personal message from Barfi to ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. “You said Ramadan is a month of mercy but where is your mercy? You speak of Islam and the Holy Koran but I know the Koranic verses,” he said. “Abu Bakr, I am ready to debate you. I come in peace, I don’t have a sword in my hand, I am ready for your answer.”
Barfi also said in Arabic: “Steve died a martyr for the sake of God.”
President Barack Obama promised to “degrade and destroy” the Islamist militant group behind the beheading of a second American journalist. “We will not be intimidated,” Obama told reporters during a visit to Estonia on Wednesday. “Those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served.”
Secretary of State John Kerry took a similar, careful approach in his response, calling the execution of Sotloff “an act of medieval savagery by a coward hiding behind a mask.”
Friends and acquaintances describe Mr. Sotloff, a 31-year-old freelance journalist, as good-natured, curious and thoughtful. He traveled throughout the Middle East, writing articles about Syria’s civil war and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
In the meantime, according to a source who cited the Iraqi Defence Ministry, three senior members of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), including one of the leader’s direct aids, were killed in the recent U.S. airstrike in Iraq. Some progress is definitely being made.
Sotloff was abducted on Aug. 4, 2013, after crossing the Syrian border from Turkey. Israel’s Foreign Ministry announced the day after the beheading that Sotloff was a dual U.S.-Israeli citizen.
For more than two years, Syria has been the most dangerous country in the world for journalists. At least 70 other journalists have been killed covering the conflict, and an estimated 20 or so are currently missing in the country, most of them Syrians.