Steven Sotloff, the American journalist who was beheaded by ISIS, may have been sold to ISIS through a militant group, according to Sotloff’s family. However, the White House disagrees with this notion.
According to CNN, Sotloff’s family had discovered from “sources on the ground” that a member of a moderate rebel group contacted ISIS to tell them where Sotloff and other people were located in Syria.
Family spokesperson Barak Barfi told CNN that Sotloff and others were set up to be kidnapped at a fake checkpoint. The tip supposedly cost ISIS between $25,000 and $50,000.
“Somebody at the border crossing made a phone call to ISIS, and they set up a fake checkpoint with many people. Steve and his people that he went in with could not escape.”
Barfi claims that the person who tipped off Sotloff’s location is one of “the so-called moderate rebels that people want our administration to support.”
Friends of Steven Sotloff believe he was on a list of people who were responsible for the bombing of a hospital. The bombing is why ISIS supposedly targeted him.
“This was false. Activists spread his name around,” Barfi told Anderson Cooper on his show, Anderson Cooper 360.
However, the White House disagrees that Sotloff’s whereabouts in Syria were sold to ISIS, according to Reuters.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the United States has no information to support the Sotloff family’s claim in which moderate Syrian opposition rebels sold him to ISIS.
“Based on the information that has been provided to me, I don’t believe that is accurate,” Earnest said in a news briefing, using the results of an FBI investigation to back up his claim.
Syrian opposition officials also deny the story, even though there are 12 different rebel groups to account for in total. Some of the groups are extreme in their beliefs, according to CNN.
Barfi believes President Barack Obama and his administration could have handled Sotloff’s kidnapping better than it did when Sotloff’s life was threatened after the beheading of James Foley on video.
“Once Steve appeared in that video, the Sotloff family made one simple request of the administration – and they were rebuffed on that.”
Barfi declined to provide more details about the request, saying it could compromise the safety of those still being held captive by ISIS. He claimed the relationship between Steven Sotloff’s family and the White House were “very strained” and the White House did not provide the family with “the cooperation” the family needed.
A senior administration official said U.S. policy involves “all of our military, intelligence, law enforcement and diplomatic capabilities to bring Americans home safely.” He claimed the White House asked more than twenty countries to use influence or provide information to help secure the release of Americans who were kidnapped in Syria.
“While we were not able to bring Steven home to his family, that is what we did in his case and what we continue to do in the case of those still being held by (ISIS) and by other groups around the world.”
Barfi insists that Sotloff and Foley were “pawns in that game” of “bureaucratic infighting” between the White House and the intelligence community while National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden says they have not forgotten or given up on the cases of Sotloff and Foley.
“We condemn the murders of Steven and Jim Foley, and we remain committed to bringing the perpetrators of these crimes to justice,” she said.
A group of bipartisan senators are currently asking for permission in the form of a bill to authorize up to $10 million for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of any people, most likely from the ISIS terror group, who were involved in the kidnappings and beheadings of Sotloff and Foley.