Though details are not yet fully known to this observer, reliable sources who have contact with DAASH report that the Islamic State rejected frantic Mossad efforts to buy the release of American journalist Steven Joel Sotloff.
This much is credited with a fair amount of certainty. On 8/1/13 Steven Sotloff, born and raised in Florida, checked into Room 303 of the Hotel Istanbul in the small border town of Kilis in southern Turkey. Three days later on 8/4/13, shortly after checking out of the hotel and heading to the border to take the Kilis-Aleppos highway south into Syria, Mr. Sotloff and his “fixer” were abducted at a check point manned by unknown jihadists.
Ben Taub, an acquaintance who met Sotloff in Kilis and whose account of that meeting is reported in the Daily Beast, describes a conversation the two had over beer in the town’s only bar.
“Sotloff told me he was sick of being beaten up, and shot at, and accused of being an Israeli spy. Just the day before, Turkish police had hit and pepper-sprayed him for taking pictures at a protest in a nearby city. He told me he wanted to quit reporting for a little while, at least on (the) conflict in the Middle East, and maybe apply to graduate school back home in Florida. But first he wanted one last Syria run. He said he was chasing a good story…”
What is not reported by Taub, but which is mentioned by my own sources, is that the ‘fixer’ set the American journalist up and sold him for cash to rebels fighting the Assad regime. The ‘fixer’ is also accused of stealing, nearly nine months later, the Mossad ‘down payment’ entrusted to him for delivery to the jihadists holding Mr. Sotloff.
At the same time the US Zionist lobby has been intensively lobbying the Obama administration to bomb IS forces in Iraq and Syria, Israeli agents were reportedly talking with IS about obtaining Mr. Sotloff’s freedom and offering $10 million to DAASH as part of a release deal.
Over the last 48 hours Mr. Sotloff’s ‘fixer’ has reportedly disappeared from public view, and is no doubt himself being hunted and marked for death as Israeli and perhaps American agents track him.
This is not the first time, nor likely will it be the last, that Westerners or others seeking to report on events here—or who simply show up in exciting places to bear witness or do good—have gotten themselves into a fix. New arrivals around here often are unaware that the ‘war economy’ along the Turkish-Syria-Iraq border these days means that just about anything, or anyone, is up for sale at the right price. There is plenty of buyer’s cash available, and that attractively pushes profits up even higher. Even sworn enemies regularly do business—either through agents or sometimes even directly—with criminal gangs and others, and the commodities run the gamut from oil, arms, counterfeit US $ 100 bills, an array of drugs, women, children, would-be jihadists and just about every other tangible asset you can think of—this while simultaneously they fight each other nearby and pledge devotion to Allah and loyalty to “humanity.”
Mr. Sotloff, who was in Libya during June of 2011 and covered parts of the Libyan civil war from Benghazi and Misrata, was accused by the Gadhafi regime of being a Mossad agent. IS also reportedly had come to believe this is what he was as well, based apparently upon information derived from their prisoner during interrogations, which likely included torture. Mr. Sotloff had lived in Israel from 2005 to 2008, according to Israelis who knew him. He studied for a year at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, a private college north of Tel Aviv, and played on the local Raanana Roosters rugby team. He returned to Israel more recently for at least one visit. It was not clear when he obtained citizenship, but that is relatively easy under Israel’s Law of Return, which encourages Jews from around the world to immigrate. US security analyst Gordon Duff reports that Mr. Sotloff was an IDF veteran.
Yet, being accused of working for a foreign government these days in this region is not uncommon. This observer has been accused of being a CIA agent while at the same time also of being a supporter of the Lebanese national Resistance led by Hezbollah and Hamas. Many around these parts simply do not understand why someone from a ‘safe and prosperous country’ would be over here if he was not being paid by some government’s security services.
Many don’t understand Americans or what patriotism means to most of us. For a majority of Americans it’s not a question of “My country right or wrong!” as the bleats of the John McCain-Lindsay Graham’s insist. Rather it’s a question of, as Commodore Stephen Decatur put in back in April of 1816, having returned from the Barbary Wars in off Libya, as some historians argue, the first post–Revolutionary war hero: “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; but if wrong, to be set right.”
Americans I cross paths with around the Middle East, love their country, recognize we have many problems of our own back home, but they want to change their governments policies toward this region and to support the Palestinian cause while seeking to end US government complicity in Zionist crimes against Palestine.
With respect to the claimed Mossad offer, ISIS reportedly balked at the proposal for several reasons, including the one stated publicly, i.e. the US bombings of ISIS fighters in Iraq. But an additional reason, reported to this observer, was the most recent Israeli aggression against Gaza:
“Think of this execution as also a gesture to the Palestinian Gaza Resistance. As the Zionists do not put any value on other than Jewish lives, let them taste justice. No Jew, Christian or Muslim who works for Mossad or who works to confiscate one inch of Arab land will be treated with respect. They will taste Allah’s punishment.”
Was the fact that Mr. Sotloff was Jewish and had written for the Jerusalem Post a factor in his savage murder? Possibly. In today’s Middle East line-up, one’s religion unfortunately is sometimes of paramount importance in determining if one lives or dies.
By all accounts Steven Sotloff was a decent enough man, and no probative evidence has surfaced that the American was anything other than what he appeared to be—an individual caught up in a Middle East maelstrom for which few these days are prepared, and in which even fewer—scarcely anyone in fact—ought reasonably indulge themselves in feelings of confidence about their own personal security.
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