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Families of James Foley, Steven Sotloff Say They Were ‘Bullied’ by Obama Administration

If one wonders how effective terrorism is, one need only look at the fallout from the brutal killings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff by ISIL. This particular kind of terrorism has the dual effect of enraging Americans and public officials to the point where they call for war and sowing the seeds of discord here at home via the outcry of the victims’ families.

The former is clearly heard from the talking heads on any cable news channel, but the latter is more subtle. Recently, friend of Steven Sotloff and his family Barak Barfi, echoed statements made by James Foley’s family accusing the Obama administration of treating the family’s coldly during their interactions with them.

Both families tried to raise money to pay the requested ransom of millions of dollars for the respective hostages’ release, especially since a number of European nations – most of whom agreed not to negotiate with terrorist hostage-takers – were perfectly willing to send cash to the terrorists.

Barfi took a step further, saying on CBS This Morning that the administration “bullied and hectored” Sotloff’s family for trying to “find a way around the [U.S.’s no-ransom] law,” according to Mediaite.com. Barfi told host Charlie Rose that he wanted a point-of-contact who “reported directly to the President” rather than the military and law enforcement contacts the families had. He complained that when the family wanted to speak to someone about this they had to “wait 45 minutes.”

Of course, anyone whose loved ones are in the custody of monsters like ISIL would be willing to pay whatever was asked, because that’s how terror works: the application of fear so that principles, etc. are abandoned. In the desperate attempts to see their loved ones home safe, they don’t consider how that ransom money might be used to capture and/or kill any number of other mothers’ sons.

What makes ISIS so dangerous is not their savagery, but their social media savvy and astronomical wealth. Perhaps the government officials who dealt with these families could have used a softer touch, but it’s difficult to argue that they were wrong to discourage paying the ransom.


Image via screengrab

About the author

Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. Along with news and current events, he writes about parenting, art, and personal stories. His serial fiction story "The Prophet Hustle" is available at JukePop.com and a forthcoming independent ebook about the cam-modeling industry "Dirty Little Windows" will be available later this summer.