Now that the video showing the beheading of American-born journalist Steven Sotloff has been authenticated by U.S. intelligence officials, those who were close to Sotloff are revealing surprising secrets about his life and faith.
According to interviews noted by theblaze.com, Sotloff was a proud and faithful Jew who moved to Israel almost ten years ago and became an Israeli citizen. Friends say that, even as a captive of the Islamic State, he secretly worshipped by “praying toward Jerusalem.”
A former captive who was held alongside Sotloff told the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Aharonoth that Sotloff feigned being ill last year during Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, so he could fast without raising suspicions, even though his kidnappers had prepared eggs for him to eat that day.
Before he was captured and taken hostage by ISIS, Sotloff wrote for several publications, including Time and the Christian Science Monitor. A friend who knew him since first grade, and who communicated with him in recent years, says he was hesitant about traveling to Syria on assignment.
“He really felt that this was who he was; he said he had to do this,” a friend of Sotloff’s told [Daniel] Berrin [Sotloff’s long-time friend]. “He felt compelled to put a human face on war stories.”
Berrin wrote that in an effort to keep his religion secret from the jihadists, Sotloff’s friends and family tried to scrub references to his faith from the Internet, including deleting his Facebook page.
The Times of Israel reports that Sotloff was the grandson of Holocaust survivors and a man who loved Israel, though his views about the country were “as complicated as the region itself.”
Daniel Berrin, says theblaze.com, also posted an article that Sotloff wrote a few years ago for the Jerusalem Post, a piece on the struggle of Austrian Jews. In part, the article said:
“In the past Vienna’s beleaguered Jews were threatened by Christian and Nazi persecutions; today they are under siege by a melange of native extremism and Muslim hostility,” he wrote. “Despite such hostilities, the Viennese Jewish community has refused to relent in the face of such adversity and emigrate to more hospitable lands free of the turmoil that has plagued this city that was once Europe’s cultural and intellectual mecca.”
“[I]f his death awakens the world to the evil proliferating among those who killed him, then maybe, just maybe, there can be redemption,” Berrin wrote.
Traveling overseas to meet with foreign leaders, President Obama vowed on Wednesday to punish the terrorists whose videotaped beheading of Steven Sotloff he said had “repulsed” the world.
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