Steven Sotloff's mother appeals to Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi to free her son in video

'I am Shirley Sotloff. My son Steven is in your hands'

The mother of American journalist Steven Sotloff has released a video pleading with the leader of the Islamic State (Isis) to spare her son’s life.

Her emotional appeal comes after an Isis militant, believed to be British, threatened to kill Mr Sotloff after beheading the American photojournalist James Foley.

The fighter warned Mr Sotloff would be next if the US did not stop air strikes on the group in Iraq. He has been held hostage by militants in Syria for over a year.

In the video aired on the Al-Arabiya television network, Shirley Sotloff directly addresses Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of Isis, referring to him as ‘caliph’, his self-proclaimed titile.

“I am sending this message to you, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, the caliph of the Islamic State. I am Shirley Sotloff. My son Steven is in your hands,” she says.

She asks his captors to be merciful by not punishing her son, “an innocent journalist”, who always had sympathy for the suffering of Muslims.

“Steven is a journalist who travelled to the Middle East to cover the suffering of Muslims at the hand of tyrants.

"Since Stephen's capture, I've learned a lot about Islam. 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.

The militant with Steven Sotloff The militant with Steven Sotloff "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 new video marks the first detailed public comments the family has made since Mr Sotloff went missing. His family did not break a media black-out on Mr Sotloff's disappearance because of threats to his life from Isis.

As a freelance journalist, Mr Sotloff published articles from Syria, Egypt and Libya in a variety of publications, including Time, the World Affairs Journal and Foreign Policy.

His family are calling on people on social media to sign a White House petition asking President Barack Obama to “do everything possible” to free Mr Sotloff. The petition has garnered over 11,000 signatures to date.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest  said he does not know if Mr Obama has seen Shirley Sotloff's video, but he said the administration is "deeply engaged" in trying to gain release of all Americans held hostage in the Middle East. 

"She obviously, as is evident from the video, feels desperate about the safety and well-being of her son, and understandably so," said Mr Earnest. "That is why our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Sotloff's family at this very difficult and trying time."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
Google celebrates the 126th anniversary of the Eiffel Tower opening its doors to the public for the first time
techGoogle celebrates Paris's iconic landmark, which opened to the public 126 years ago today
News
Cleopatra the tortoise suffers from a painful disease that causes her shell to disintegrate; her new prosthetic one has been custom-made for her using 3D printing technology
newsCleopatra had been suffering from 'pyramiding'
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Coachella and Lollapalooza festivals have both listed the selfie stick devices as “prohibited items”
music
Sport
Nigel Owens was targeted on Twitter because of his sexuality during the Six Nations finale between England and France earlier this month
rugbyReferee Nigel Owens on coming out, and homophobic Twitter abuse
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin visits her 1990s work ‘My Bed’ at Tate Britain in London, where it is back on display from today
artsBut how does the iconic work stand up, 16 years on?
Life and Style
life + style
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Web Designer / Front End Developer

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast expanding web managem...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey / South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Trainee Consultant - Surrey/ South West London

£22000 per annum + pension,bonus,career progression: Ashdown Group: An establi...

Ashdown Group: Recruitment Consultant / Account Manager - Surrey / SW London

£40000 per annum + realistic targets: Ashdown Group: A thriving recruitment co...

Day In a Page

No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor