Shirley Sotloff isn't relying on intermediaries to appeal for her son's release from ISIS—she released a video today appealing directly to the group's leader, reports the New York Times. “You, the caliph, can grant amnesty," Sotloff says after addressing her message to Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. "I ask you please to release my child." She says her son, Steven Sotloff, is an "innocent journalist" who should not be held responsible for decisions by the US government that he cannot control.
“I ask you to use your authority to spare his life and to follow the example set by the Prophet Muhammad, who protected People of the Book,” which the Times explains is a reference to Christians and Jews. When militants released a video showing the beheading of James Foley, they also showed Steven Sotloff and threatened that he would be next unless the US stopped its airstrikes in Iraq. The 31-year-old grew up in Florida and had traveled to Syria as a freelance journalist before his abduction last year, notes CNN. "I want what every mother wants: to live to see her children's children," says Shirley Sotloff. "I plead with you to grant me this." (Newly released US journalist Peter Theo Curtis is back on American soil.)