Steven Sotloff 'beheading': Mother's tragic appeal to Isis to 'follow Mohamed's example' and show mercy on journalist

Shirley Sotloff asked the terrorists to spare her son days before his murder

Steven Sotloff’s apparent beheading came less than a week after his mother made an emotional appeal for the Islamic State (Isis) to “follow the example set by the Prophet Mohamed” and show mercy.

Shirley Sotloff addressed the leader of the Sunni militants directly in the short message, respectfully using his full name, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, and his self-bestowed title of “caliph of the Islamic State”.

Begging his captors not to punish her son for the actions of the American Government, she said the 31-year-old travelled to Syria to cover the “suffering of Muslims at the hands of tyrants”.

Mr Sotloff was a freelancer who had contributed to magazines including Time, The Christian Science Monitor and Foreign Policy, reporting from conflict zones across the Middle East and North Africa before he was abducted near Aleppo in August 2013.

“Steven is a loyal and generous son, brother and grandson,” Mrs Sotloff said.

“He is an honourable man and has always tried to help the weak.

“We have not seen Steven more than a year and we miss him very much.

“We want to see him home safe and sound and to hug him.”

The family had not broken a media black-out since Mr Sotloff was abducted for fear it would put him in further danger and the message was the first public statement made.

Read more: British captive shown in Isis video which claims to show death of second US journalist
Tributes pour in for US journalist who Islamic State militants claim to have killed

It came after the journalist was paraded in front of cameras in a video of the beheading of another US journalist, James Foley, and Isis threatened to kill him next if Barack Obama did not stop air strikes against the group in Iraq.

The President stepped up the bombing campaign days later, despite a petition signed by more than 11,500 people asking him to “do everything possible” to free Mr Sotloff.

Journalist Steven Sotloff, left, pictured in Libya in 2011 Journalist Steven Sotloff, left, pictured in Libya in 2011 At the time, a spokesman for the White House said the administration was “deeply engaged” in trying to gain the release of all Americans held hostage in the Middle East.

American special forces attempted to free Mr Sotloff and Mr Foley along with other hostages in a secret operation in July but failed their mission because they had recently been moved from the oil refinery in northern Syria targeted.

Isis is violently enforcing its version of Sunni law with the aim of establishing an Islamic state through Iraq, Syria and beyond but Mrs Sotloff urged them to use different teachings from the Koran.

“Since Stephen's capture, I've learned a lot about Islam,” she said.

“I've learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others.

"Stephen has no control over the actions of the US government. He's an innocent journalist.”

Asking al-Baghdadi to use his power to grant amnesty, she added: “I ask you to please release my child.

“As a mother I ask your justice to be merciful and not to punish my son for matters he has no control over.

“I ask you to use your authority to spare his life and to follow the example set by the Prophet Mohamed, who protected people of the book.

"I want what every mother wants - to live to see her children's children. I plead with you to grant me this."

The video of Mr Sotloff’s apparent beheading emerged on Tuesday evening but has not yet been verified.

A spokesperson for his family said they are “grieving privately” and will not be making a public statement.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Barn owls are among species that could be affected
charity appeal
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
After another poor series in Sri Lanka, Alastair Cook claimed all players go through a lean period
cricketEoin Morgan reportedly to take over ODI captaincy
Life and Style
food + drink
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
news... you won't believe how bad their skills were

Arts and Entertainment
Mark Wright and Mark Wright
tvStrictly goes head-to-head with Apprentice
footballPremier League preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's clashes
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas