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JERUSALEM (JTA) — Journalist Steven Sotloff, who was beheaded by the Islamic State, was a dual American-Israeli citizen and studied in Israel, Israel’s Foreign Ministry said.
Sotloff’s connections to Israel and the Jewish community reportedly were sanitized from the internet and social media in order to keep the information from his radical Islamic captors. The Foreign Ministry cleared for publication Wednesday that Sotloff held Israeli citizenship.
Sotloff, who grew up in Miami, made aliyah in 2005 and studied foreign relations at the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, a private college, Ynet reported. He then began reporting from countries throughout the Middle East, returning to Israel for the 2013 Maccabiah Games.
Sotloff was abducted on Aug. 4, 2013, after crossing the Syrian border from Turkey.
A hostage who was held with Sotloff and later released, told the Hebrew daily Yediot Acharonot that Sotloff was able to fast last year on Yom Kippur without his captors knowing.
“He told them he was sick and did not want to eat, even though that day we were served eggs,” the fellow captive said. He added that Sotloff also was able to pray in a hidden manner and in the proscribed way facing Jerusalem by looking which way the Muslims prayed in order to determine the proper direction.
Islamist ISIS organization released online a nearly three-minute video Tuesday, titled “A Second Message to America,” showing the beheading Sotloff.
The United States on Wednesday announced that the video is authentic.
“The U.S. Intelligence Community has analyzed the recently released video showing U.S. citizen Steven Sotloff and has reached the judgment that it is authentic. We will continue to provide updates as they are available,” National Security Council Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden said in a statement.
Sotloff is the son of Arthur and Shirley Sotloff. Shirley Sotloff has worked in the early childhood program at Temple Beth Am Day School in Pinecrest, Fla., according to the synagogue website. Last week, Shirley Sotloff pleaded in a video for his captors to have mercy on him.
“He is an honorable man and has always tried to help the weak,” she said, adding that he was sympathetic to the suffering of Muslims.
Sotloff published articles from Syria, Egypt and Libya in various publications, including Time.com, the World Affairs Journal and Foreign Policy. He also freelanced for the Jerusalem Post newspaper and the Jerusalem Report magazine.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Psaki called the murder a “horrific terrorist act” against the United States.
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