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Miami - Sotloff Family Challenges Islamic State Leader To Debate

Published on: September 4, 2014 08:09 AM
By: Reuters
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A masked Islamic State militant speaks next to U.S. journalist Steven Sotloff in this still image video posted on a social media website. REUTERS/Social Media Website via REUTERS TVMiami - 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. U.S. 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 spokesman, 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-story 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 U.S. air strikes against Islamic State forces in Iraq was journalist James Foley, who was shown being beheaded in a video released on Aug. 19.

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

“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. [ID:nL2N0QS1PL]

He grew up in the Miami area and studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. A spokesman 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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Read Comments (6)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 04, 2014 at 08:53 AM Secular Says:

, וַיֹּאמֶר אִישׁ הָאֱלֹהִים הַרְפֵּה-לָהּ כִּי-נַפְשָׁהּ מָרָה-לָהּ, וַיהוָה הֶעְלִים מִמֶּנִּי, וְלֹא הִגִּיד לִי.


 Sep 04, 2014 at 10:16 AM TannaKamma Says:

He might as well go the local zoo, enter the lion's cage and announce his 'debate'


 Sep 04, 2014 at 10:09 AM Anonymous Says:

Why bother debating a tribe of subhuman savages? They are bloodthirsty, and it was tragic that this young man ended up where he did. There is this ideology called Islam that masquerades as a "religion", and they make all these statements about allah, mercy, peace, etc. These words are nothing but rhetoric that fools the media, even the heads of state that are closer to tails. The reality is that the spoken word has zero effect on these animals. They stop at nothing to achieve their thirst for blood. It is directed at Jews, Israel, and the West in general. But don't be fooled about their claim to be a religion. They have no faith. They are nothing better than a pack of hungry bloodthirsty predators. To sit at a table to debate is to dignify them as humans, which they are not. Primates, maybe, but humans, not.


 Sep 04, 2014 at 12:07 PM sim Says:

Reply to #2  
TannaKamma Says:

He might as well go the local zoo, enter the lion's cage and announce his 'debate'

Debate is what Jews do best BEFORE the injustice. Afterwards, fight fire with fire. End of story


 Sep 04, 2014 at 01:10 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
sim Says:

Debate is what Jews do best BEFORE the injustice. Afterwards, fight fire with fire. End of story

Against the torah..........................


 Sep 04, 2014 at 02:26 PM Anonymous Says:

"but “the Arab world pulled him.”
Yes, straight into his grave unfortunately.


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