Beheaded American journalist Steven Sotloff was sold to the ISIL terrorist group by the US-backed “moderate Syrian rebels”, according to Sotloff family spokesman Barak Barfi.
Barfi told CNN on Monday night the family believed militants were paid up to $50,000 by ISIL for providing information about Sotloff’s location.
He said that “Steven was sold at the border” to ISIL after militants were told that the 31-year-old journalist was involved in the bombing of a Syrian hospital. “This was false.”
“Somebody at the border crossing made a phone call to ISIS, and they set up a fake checkpoint with many people,” Barfi said, using another acronym for the terrorist group. “Steve and his people that he went in with could not escape.”
“We believe that these so-called moderate rebels that people want our administration to support, one of them sold him probably for something between $25,000 and $50,000 to ISIS, and that was the reason he was captured,” Barfi said.
On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said that the Obama administration has no information that Sotloff was “sold” to ISIL.
On September 2, ISIL released a video that claimed to show the beheading of Sotloff, who disappeared in Syria in 2013. In a message, the journalist said that he is “paying the price” for US military intervention in the Middle East.
His family issued a statement saying it believed he had been killed. “The family knows of this horrific tragedy and is grieving privately.”
The ISIL terrorists, who were initially trained by the CIA in Jordan in 2012 to destabilize the Syrian government, control large parts of Syria’s northern territory. ISIL sent its fighters into neighboring Iraq in June, quickly seizing large swaths of land straddling the border between the two countries.