Even for a freelance journalist covering the tumult in the Arab world, Steven Sotloff’s travels seemed nonstop.
In October 2012, the American reporter was in Benghazi, Libya, covering the aftermath of the deadly raid on the U.S. diplomatic compound there. In December, he was in northern Syria, writing about the lives of destitute, displaced Syrians and the war, according to his published reports and his communications with colleagues and editors.
“I’ve been here over a week and no one wants freelance because of the kidnappings. It’s pretty bad here,” he e-mailed another journalist. “I’ve been sleeping at a front, hiding from tanks the past few nights, drinking rain water.”
In August 2013, telling colleagues he understood the dangers, Sotloff returned to Syria, slipping across the border from Turkey. He was quickly kidnapped and fell into the hands of Islamic State, the violent militant group that wants to establish a jihadist hub in the heart of the Arab world.
Islamic State said in a video released by a monitoring group on Tuesday that it had beheaded Sotloff, 31, in retaliation for U.S. airstrikes against the group, the second such killing of a U.S. journalist in two weeks. His family said in a statement they believed he had been killed.