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ISIS Captive's Mother: 'He's an Innocent Journalist'
August 28th, 2014
10:35 AM ET

ISIS Captive's Mother: 'He's an Innocent Journalist'

A mother's plea to the terrorists holding her son hostage: No individual should be punished for events he cannot control.

The mother is Shirley Sotloff, and she speaks directly to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in a video broadcast Wednesday on Al Arabiya Network.

Her son, freelance journalist Steven Sotloff, appeared last week in an ISIS video showing the decapitation of American journalist James Foley.

The militant in the video warns that Steven Sotloff's fate depends on what President Barack Obama does next in Iraq.

A day after the video was posted, Obama vowed that the United States would be "relentless" in striking back against ISIS.

"Steven is a journalist who traveled to the Middle East to cover the suffering of Muslims at the hands of tyrants. Steven is a loyal and generous son, brother and grandson," Shirley Sotloff said in the rare public appeal. "He is an honorable man and has always tried to help the weak."

The journalist has no control over what the United States government does, and he should not be held responsible for its actions, she says.

"He's an innocent journalist," she said.

The mother appeals to al-Baghdadi's self-declared title of caliph of the Islamic State.

As caliph, he has the power to grant amnesty to Steven Sotloff, the mother said.

"I ask you to please release my child," she said.

Steven Sotloff disappeared while reporting from Syria in August 2013, but his family kept the news secret, fearing harm to him if they went public.

Out of public view, the family and a number of government agencies have been trying to gain Sotloff's release for the past year.

See more on this developing story at CNN.com

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August 27th, 2014
09:57 AM ET

McCain: U.S. Should Conduct Airstrikes Against ISIS in Syria

ISIS has taken more and more territory in Iraq and Syria, sometimes overrunning government forces while terrorizing civilians.

"They are beyond just a terrorist group," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said last week. "They marry ideology, a sophistication of strategic and tactical military prowess.

"This is beyond anything we have seen, and we must prepare for everything."

But on "New Day" Wednesday, Senator John McCain said President Obama hasn't presented a clear strategy on how to fight against the group.

When Alisyn Camerota argued Obama stated his goal was to contain ISIS, McCain replied: "You can’t contain ISIS, you have to defeat it.”

McCain attacked Obama for not presenting a strategy in the region, saying  "this president doesn't want to lead."

But the lawmaker recommended that there should be airstrikes in Syria – both against ISIS and against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

"The ultimate goal should be the overthrow of Bashar al-Assad," McCain said.

SEE INTERVIEW ABOVE 

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August 26th, 2014
11:50 AM ET

Obama Authorizes Reconnaissance Flights Over Syria, U.S. Official Says

U.S. President Barack Obama has authorized reconnaissance flights over Syria as ISIS militants continue to gain ground in the war-ravaged nation, a U.S. official told CNN.

The flights - seen as a forerunner of possible U.S. airstrikes against ISIS in Syria - could begin at any point, the official said Monday.

"In general, when you're thinking about conducting operations like that, you certainly want to get as much of a view on the ground as you can," Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby said earlier Monday in a conversation with CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

"Satellites can provide you good visibility, but you always want closer eyes on target if you can," Kirby said, before Obama's decision was made public.

Concerns have been intensifying over the threat posed by ISIS after the extremist group posted a video last week showing the beheading of captive American journalist James Foley.

The United States has already been gathering intelligence on the locations of ISIS leadership and troops in Syria, two U.S. officials told CNN on Friday.

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August 22nd, 2014
07:02 AM ET

"Morning Minute" with Michaela Pereira – August 22, 2014

Need to get today's top stories on-the-go? Watch Michaela Pereira's morning minute now!

 

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