Steven Sotloff’s mother, Shirley, pleaded futilely with his captors a week ago, asking the leader of the Islamic State group to show mercy: “He’s an honourable man and has always tried to help the weak.”
Days earlier, another mother, Diane Foley, said that her son James, imprisoned alongside Mr Sotloff for a year before also being murdered, “gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people”.
Phil Bigley, the brother of Ken Bigley, who was kidnapped in Iraq in 2004 and later killed, said that the family only realised the gravity of the situation when their police liaison officer suggested that they prepare a statement in the event of Ken’s death. One can scarcely imagine the horror.
Mr Sotloff’s masked killer speaks with a British accent and appears to be the same man who murdered Mr Foley.
Terrorists’ use of beheadings is a form of psychological warfare perpetrated against an individual and their family and friends, but truly targeted at distant governments and populations. In this, Isis is no different from the al-Qa’ida affiliates in Iraq and Afghanistan who have made being an aid worker or foreign correspondent more perilous since 9/11. How Isis and al-Shabaab differ from predecessors is that they run their own media wings, using social media to propagate these atrocities to an often-unwitting global audience.
Publishers and broadcasters need to be careful not to disseminate propaganda for the Islamo-Fascists. Like several other newspapers, we will not run images from the video of Steven Sotloff on the front page.
I used to want to be a war correspondent, after picking up a degree specialising in Iraq, but lost my bottle. Thank goodness. We can but salute those reporters, aid workers and diplomats who gamble with their own safety to help the less fortunate.