UK & World News

  • 28 August 2014, 2:13

American Hostage's Mother Pleads For His Life

The mother of an American reporter threatened with death by his Islamic militant captors has made an emotional plea for his release.

Shirley Sotloff addressed the leader of the Islamic State group as she begged for the return of Steven Sotloff, 31.

The freelance reporter appeared last week in a hostage video, which also showed the decapitated body of another American journalist, James Foley.

The jihadists threatened to kill Mr Sotloff, who was last seen in August 2013 in Syria, if the US continued air raids against the group in Iraq.

After her message was broadcast on Wednesday, it emerged that the US had carried out three more air strikes on the Islamic State.

Armoured vehicles and a building used by Islamic State were among targets hit in the raids, said the US military.

It brought to 101 the number of such American attacks against the group in Iraq this month. 

Ms Sotloff's video message was broadcast on the al-Arabiya channel.

"Steven is a journalist who travelled to the Middle East to cover the suffering of Muslims at the hands of tyrants," she said.

"Steven is a loyal and generous son, brother and grandson. He is an honourable man and has always tried to help the weak."

Ms Sotloff, who lives in the Miami area, added: "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."

It was the Sotloff family's first detailed public comments on their son's captivity.

She addressed her message to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

"You, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you please to release my child. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life," Ms Sotloff said.

Also on Wednesday, another American journalist who was held hostage in Syria for almost two years said he was "overwhelmed with emotion" as he returned to the US.

Peter Theo Curtis, 45, was released this week by al Qaeda's official wing in Syria, al Nusra Front, after 22 months in captivity.

His voice trembling at times, Mr Curtis told reporters near his mother's Massachusetts home that total strangers had been welcoming him home.

His former cellmate, a US photographer, has previously said their captors tortured Mr Curtis by whipping the soles of his feet with a cable.

Qatar, whose diplomacy helped free him, is believed to be working to free remaining hostages in Syria.

The US has been preparing military options in Syria, including surveillance flights, in an effort to eradicate IS. 

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