ISIS Releases “Letter” From Steven Sotloff to His Mother
More than a month after Steven Sotloff’s brutal beheading by ISIS, the terrorist group has released a supposed “letter” written by him to his mother “days before his execution.” In the fourth edition of its official English-language magazine, Dabiq, ISIS published what it says is a letter from Sotloff. But with its stilted language and pointedly pro-ISIS content, it’s hard not to assume that the extremist group either tampered with the message or wrote it themselves.
In the Aug. 19 video capturing the beheading of journalist James Foley, ISIS told President Barack Obama that his next foreign-policy move would decide Sotloff’s fate. After Foley’s beheading, Obama ramped up airstrikes against the group. A petition pleading for the White House to save Sotloff’s life by postponing the airstrikes garnered thousands of signatures in a matter of days. On Aug. 27, Shirley Sotloff, the journalist’s mother, published a video asking for the release of her son. ISIS accidentally leaked the video of Sotloff’s execution in a staged beheading on Sept. 2.
The Dabiq article alludes to this timeline of events: “Sotloff was executed in retaliation for the numerous Muslims killed in Iraq by the US American airstrikes similarly killed the Muslim families on September 15th after Sotloff’s death.”
“Below you will read the message sent from Steven Sotloff to his mother days before his execution,” reads an introduction to the letter in Dabiq. “Again, his killing was in consequence of US arrogance and transgression which all US citizens are responsible for as they are represented by the government they have elected, approved of, and supported, through votes, polls, and taxes.”
Here is the “letter” in its unedited entirety, as it appears in Dabiq:
For contrast, here is a passage excerpted from a letter written by Sotloff while he was in captivity, which was smuggled out of Syria and shared at his funeral:
“Everyone has two lives. A second one begins when you realize you only have one. …Hug each other every day. Please know I am OK. Live your lives to the fullest and pray to be happy.”