- Governor announced symbol of mourning in Florida, where Sotloff family live
- A service is being held at Temple Beth Am in Sotloff’s hometown of Pinecrest
- Family paid tribute to a thoughtful man who enjoyed simple pleasures
- U.S. journalist was killed by Islamic State militants in video released Tuesday
Annabel Grossman for MailOnline
08:49 GMT, 5 September 2014
12:04 GMT, 5 September 2014
Sotloff’s family have paid tribute to a thoughtful man who enjoyed simple pleasures
Flags will fly at half-mast in Florida today, where the family of beheaded US journalist Steven Sotloff lives.
Sotloff, 31, was beheaded by Islamic State militants in a video released Tuesday, two weeks after the similar video of U.S. journalist James Foley was posted online.
‘In honor and in memory of Steven Sotloff, I hereby direct the flags of the United States and the state of Florida to be flown at half-staff at all local and state buildings, installations, and grounds throughout the state of Florida,’ Governor Rick Scott said in a statement.
An afternoon service is being held at Temple Beth Am in Sotloff’s hometown of Pinecrest which Rabbi Terry Bookman says is open to the public.
Sotloff attended the Temple Beth Am school as a child and his mother Shirley Sotloff still teaches preschool there.
Sotloff was kidnapped April 4, 2013 in Aleppo near the Turkish border, but his abduction was kept secret after his family requested a media blackout.
He was a freelance reporter who had written for Time magazine, Foreign Policy and other outlets.
His family have paid tribute to the slain journalist, remembering him as a thoughtful man who enjoyed simple pleasures and was fascinated by the Middle East.
They described him as ‘a gentle soul’ who ‘tried to find good in a world of darkness’ in a statement released on Wednesday afternoon.
Barak Barfi, a spokesperson for the Sotloff family, wept as he spoke to reporters in front of the family’s home in Miami.
He described Sotloff as someone who was ‘torn between two poles’, who ‘yearned for a tranquil life’, but who was also pulled by the Arab world.
Sotloff was ‘no war junkie’, he said, but someone who ‘merely wanted to give a voice to those who have none.’
‘From the Libyan doctor in Misrata who struggled to provide psychological services to children ravaged by war, to the Syrian plumber who risked his life by crossing regime lines to purchase medicine, their story was Steve’s story.
Candlelight vigils have been held across Florida in memory of slain journalist Steven Sotloff
‘He ultimately sacrificed his life to bring their story to the world, said Barfi, one of the dead man’s closest friends and a research fellow at the New America Foundation.
Sotloff’s death was announced in a video entitled, ‘A Second Message to America’, in which the journalist appears in an orange jumpsuit before he is beheaded by an ISIS fighter.
The executioner is believed to be the same man who killed Foley – ‘Jihadi John’ – and speaks to the camera saying, ‘I’m back, Obama, and I’m back because of your arrogant foreign policy towards the Islamic State.’
He then threatens to kill a British hostage next.
President Barak Obama said that the prayers of the American people are with the family of the ‘devoted and courageous journalist’ Mr Sotloff, who deeply loved the Islamic world and whose ‘life stood in stark contrast to those who murdered him so brutally.’