Like James Foley, who sent a last letter to family, slain journalist Steven Sotloff kept a secret from his Islamic State captors until the very end: He was Jewish, held both US and Israeli citizenship, and purposefully hid the fact from his captors, friends say. "He told them he was sick and didn't want to eat, even though we were served eggs" on Yom Kippur, an unidentified captive once held with Sotloff tells Israel's Yedioth Aharonoth, per Ynet News. "He used to pray secretly in the direction of Jerusalem." Though it appears all mention of Sotloff's Jewish heritage was scrubbed from the Internet after the Miami native's capture in Syria, details came out after video of his execution was posted online.
"Cleared for publication: Steven Sotloff was Israel citizen RIP," an Israeli official tweeted yesterday. Several publications, including the Times of Israel, note they withheld the fact for weeks so as not to endanger his life. After studying journalism at the University of Florida, Sotloff moved to Israel in 2008 to finish his degree at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, eventually gaining his citizenship. As he began reporting in war-torn areas unfriendly to Jews and Israelis, he learned to hide his Jewish identity, the Miami Herald reports. Did he fool ISIS in the end? "Of course, none of us have talked to [the Islamic State] about it," a friend of Sotloff's says. "But don't you think they would have been bragging about it if they knew they were killing a Jew?"