US & Canada

Statement from family of US journalist Steven Sotloff

Steven Sotloff (centre) with reporters in Libya Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption "He was appreciated by all who met him for his sincerity and kindness," says the Sotloff family statement

A spokesman for the family of Steven Sotloff, the second US journalist to be beheaded by Islamic State militants, has paid tribute to the man they describe as a "gentle soul" in this statement:

Ever since Steven was abducted on 4 August 2013 in Aleppo, his family has refrained from speaking about his incarceration.

Now that he has left this world, we break that silence to share Steve's story and that of our country.

We Americans want to tend to our own lives, work our jobs, farm our farms.

But time and time again, we are sucked into world crises and often perplexed about which policies to pursue and criticised for what we choose.

Steve was equally torn between two poles.

He wanted to live in a society governed by John Ford's ideals but ultimately could not turn his back on the suffering pervading Sam Peckinpah's world.

He yearned for a tranquil life where he could enjoy Miami Dolphins games on Sunday and a banal office job on Monday that would provide a comfortable middle class existence.

But the Arab world pulled him.

He was no war junkie. He did not want to be a modern-day Lawrence of Arabia. He merely wanted to give voice to those who had 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.

He ultimately sacrificed his life to bring their story to the world.

Steve was no hero.

Like all of us, he was a mere man who tried to find good concealed in a world of darkness. And if it did not exist, he tried to create it.

He always sought to help those less privileged than himself, offering career services and precious contacts to newcomers in the region.

He indulged in South Park, but was just as serious about filing a story at 3am. He had a fondness for junk food that he could not overcome.

And despite his busy schedule, he always found time to Skype his father to talk about his latest golf game.

Steve would often say his job was to hold people's hands to build rapport before delving into the story. He never rushed or was pressured. He was appreciated by all who met him for his sincerity and kindness.

Steve had a gentle soul that this world will be without. But his spirit will endure in our hearts.

Today we grieve. This week we mourn. But we will emerge from this ordeal. Our village is strong.

We will not allow our enemies to hold us hostage with the sole weapon they possess - fear.

Our prayers go out to the family of Jim Foley. Like Steve, he suffered. But his jailers never broke him, and he was an inspiration for others in that dark prison far from this country's freedoms.