In the video execution of James Foley, fellow American journalist Steven Sotloff is threatened by ISIS with the same fate should the U.S. not halt in actions in Iraq. Today, Sotloff’s mother issued a personal statement directed at the militant leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi begging for mercy, a rare gesture among the families of terrorist kidnapping victims. (The 26-year-old American aid worker also in ISIS custody, for example, has not been identified.)
“I am Shirley Sotloff,” begins the emotional message, which aired today on Al Arabiya Network. “My son, Steven, is in your hands. Steven is a journalist who traveled to the Middle East to cover the suffering of Muslims at the hands of tyrants.”
“Since Steven’s capture, I’ve learned a lot about Islam,” Sotloff says. “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 U.S. government. He’s an innocent journalist.”
“I’ve always learned that you, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you to please release my child. As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over,” she continues.
“I ask you to use your authority to spare his life and to set the example of the Prophet Mohammed, 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.” While Sotloff’s words are harrowing, ISIS is not known for its compassion. These are the pleas of a woman with both nothing more and still so much to lose.