The White House on Tuesday pushed back against reports that journalist Steven Sotloff was “sold” to ISIS militants by Syrian moderates before he was gruesomely beheaded.
The idea that Sotloff was turned over to Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham terrorists by Syrian opposition rebels supported by the U.S. first came from a spokesman for his family, Barak Barfi, speaking on CNN Monday night. Barfi said “sources on the ground” had given the family information to that effect, and they were disappointed in the Obama administration.
On Tuesday, however, White House spokesman Josh Earnest denied that account. “As it relates to the specifics of this matter, based on the information that has been provided to me, I don’t believe that is accurate, but I do know at the same time that this is the subject of an ongoing FBI investigation,” said Earnest. “They are looking into all aspects of this, including how Mr. Sotloff may have come into the hands of ISIL (ISIS).”
An FBI spokeswoman had no initial comment on the matter when contacted by NBC News.
ISIS released a video on Sept. 2 showing the beheading of Sotloff, who was kidnapped in Syria in August 2013.
— Hasani Gittens