The Obama administration is denying claims that ISIS may have paid as much as $50,000 to purchase American Journalist Steven Sotloff from a “moderate” group of rebels in Syria.
Sotloff was beheaded by ISIS in early September, becoming the second American journalist to be executed that way within one month.
On September 9, Sotloff family spokesman Barak Barfi told CNN’s Anderson Cooper that the family believes “a member of a moderate rebel group reached out to ISIS,” offering to deliver Sotloff to them for a price.
Barfi suggests that Sotloff was captured when someone working a checkpoint alerted the terror group to the presence of an American, then held Sotloff until ISIS paid a price for him. He says the price paid was “something between” $25,000 and $50,000.
Reuters reports that the Obama administration does not believe ISIS actually paid money for Sotloff.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest reacted to Barfi’s claims by saying: “Based on the information that has been provided to me, I don’t believe that is accurate.” Earnest cited an FBI investigation into Sotloff’s death which includes its own explanation for “how Mr. Sotloff may have come into the hands of [ISIS],”
On September 13, Breitbart News reported that Earnest also countered the claims of Diane Foley–the mother of executed American journalist James Foley. Foley claimed the administration appeared to view her family’s efforts to free James as “an annoyance.” She said: “[James freedom] didn’t seem to be in the (U.S.) strategic interest, if you will.”
Earnest responded by saying the Obama administration had stayed “in regular touch with the Foley family” during the crisis leading up to James’ beheading.
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