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UPDATE: Did Israel Offer ISIS $10 Million to Free Steven Sotloff?

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Did Israel Offer ISIS $10 Million to Free Steven Sotloff?

Franklin Lamb

Ein el Helwe Palestinian camp

Though details are not yet fully known to this observer, reliable sources, including member of Fatah el Islam here in Lebanon 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.

Steven Sotloff, held both American and Israeli citizenships, according to the Zionist Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Times of Israel has reported that Sotloff moved to Israel in 2008 to finish college, and while threre reporting throughout the Middle there he never shared the fact he was Jewish, opting instead to tell them he was a secular Muslim."He sometimes even chose to tell people that he was of Chechen origin, and that Sotloff --was a Chechen name.

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Since 2013, Professor Franklin P. Lamb has traveled extensively throughout Syria. His primary focus has been to document, photograph, research and hopefully help preserve the vast and irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts in (more...)

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