“Sotloff would covertly pray toward Jerusalem by observing which way the Muslims were facing during prayer, and changing the direction slightly”
Steven Sotloff, the journalist whose beheading by the Islamic State was announced earlier this week, was not only Jewish, but an Israeli citizen. Apparently Sotloff became an Israeli citizen when he attended the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.
Given the ease with which one can gather information he understood the risks involved in reporting from a part of world where Jews aren’t welcome. He told his “almost-friend” Oren Kessler, “Yeah, Google definitely isn’t my friend.”
Kessler was quoted further in The Times of Israel:
London-based analyst Oren Kessler, who corresponded with Sotloff, said he never shared his Jewish identity with anyone in the field, opting instead to tell locals that he had been raised Muslim but secular, without mosque affiliation. He sometimes even chose to tell people that he was of Chechen origin, and that Sotloff – a name that rings decidedly Jewish to those familiar with Jewish names – was actually a Chechen name.
The same report quoted a former hostage who said that despite the risks Sotloff feigned illness on Yom Kippur so he could fast and made efforts to pray towards Jerusalem:
Speaking to Yedioth Ahronoth, an ex-prisoner who said he was held along with Sotloff, said the reporter tried to keep to some Jewish traditions, even while keeping his heritage secret from his Islamist captors.
On Yom Kippur, the unnamed ex-hostage said, he managed to fast.
“He said to them that he is sick and doesn’t want to eat, despite the fact that they served us eggs that day,” he said.
The source also said that Sotloff would covertly pray toward Jerusalem by observing which way the Muslims were facing during prayer, and changing the direction slightly.
His friends, family and colleagues were careful not to publicize any damaging information. But their role wasn’t just passive, they made an active effort to hide any identifying information that his captors could use against him.
The report revealed that a group of 150 of Sotloff’s friends and acquaintances, speaking 20 different languages, teamed up to meticulously scan Facebook posts and tweets for any mention of the Jewish and Israeli connection — trying to keep Sotloff out of harm’s way and save his life the only way they could, from afar.
“We had two missions: To locate all of his friends worldwide — and he had many — and make sure they don’t talk to journalists. In addition, we had to convince journalists who were writing about him to cooperate with us and remove any connection between him and Israel or Judaism, so his ISIS kidnappers don’t find out his background,” the news site quoted one of Sotloff’s friends as saying.
Also news organizations such as the Jerusalem Report were asked to remove Sotloff’s articles and these organizations complied with the request in an effort to save Sotloff’s life.
Sotloff was the second journalist beheaded by the Islamic State. In August James Foley was similarly executed.
— Embassy of Israel (@IsraelinUK) September 3, 2014
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