Shirley Sotloff is a grieving mother, and so whatever she says can be excused under that rubric. Nonetheless, her video is fascinating in numerous ways. She tells the caliph that her son was over there to chronicle the suffering of Muslims — i.e., look, Abu Bakr, this guy could be useful to you alive. She assumes throughout that the U.S. has indeed done wrong to the Islamic State, but argues that her son should not be punished for it.
But worst of all, she shows off her Karen Armstrong/John Esposito understanding of Islam to lecture the caliph (gently, to be sure, but unmistakably) about how un-Islamically he is behaving — for surely the Emir al-Momineen’s heart will be melted by an appeal to Islam from a Western non-Muslim woman, won’t it? She tells him: “Since Steven’s capture, I have learned a lot about Islam. I’ve learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others.”
Has the caliph somehow overlooked this Islamic tenet? Or have Armstrong, Esposito, Aslan and the rest of the whitewash crew neglected to tell Mrs. Sotloff that Islamic law allows for the taking of captives (cf. Qur’an 47:4), including non-combatants such as women who are then pressed into sex slavery (cf. Qur’an 4:3, 4:24, 23:1-6, 33:50), and thus the kidnapping of a male journalist is certainly within the parameters of Islamic law?
Mrs. Sotloff continues: “As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life, and to follow the example set by the Prophet Mohammad, who protected People of the Book.” Mrs. Sotloff may here be referring to the spurious but increasingly popular Achtiname, Muhammad’s pact with the monks of St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai, in which Muhammad grants all sorts of rights and privileges to Christians that do not accord with the provisions of Islamic law, which mandates that Christians and other non-Muslims be subjugated, in accord with the Qur’an: “Fight those who believe not in Allah nor the Last Day, nor hold that forbidden which hath been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger, nor acknowledge the religion of Truth, (even if they are) of the People of the Book, until they pay the Jizya with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.” — Qur’an 9:29. This subjugation is not a guarantee that one’s life will be spared, however; if one is considered to be a kaffir harbi, one’s life is forfeit.
The people who have misled Mrs. Sotloff about Islam have done her a grave disservice, and given her false hope.
“Video: Sotloff’s mother appeals to ISIS leader,” Al Arabiya, August 27, 2014:
The mother of Steven J. Sotloff, an American hostage being held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has released a video on Wednesday appealing for her son’s release.
Shirley Sotloff called on ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-declared Muslim Caliph, to “grant amnesty” to her 31-year-old son and freelance journalist.
“I am sending this message to you, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, the caliph of the Islamic State. I am Shirley Sotloff. My son Steven is in your hands,” she begins.
“You, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you please to release my child,” she continues. “I ask you to use your authority to spare his life.”
Baghdadi – whose real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai – was previously held at Camp Bucca, a U.S. detention facility in Iraq.
Upon his release in 2009, Baghdadi reportedly told his captors: “I’ll see you guys in New York.”
Baghdadi’s militant group, which beheaded this month American journalist James Foley, vowed to also execute Sotloff unless U.S. President Barack Obama suspends an ongoing U.S. military campaign against the militant group.
The United States is currently operating surveillance flights on Syria in what is seen as preparations to targeting ISIS facilities in the war-torn country.
Sotloff’s mother tells Baghdadi in her appeal video that her son “has no control over the actions of the U.S. government. He is an innocent journalist.”
“Since Steven’s capture, I have learned a lot about Islam. I’ve learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others,” she said.
“As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over. I ask you to use your authority to spare his life, and to follow the example set by the Prophet Mohammad, who protected People of the Book,” she continued.
“I want what every mother wants–to live to see her children’s children. I plead with you to grant me this.”