Family Sues Over Islamic State Beheading

     WASHINGTON (CN) — Syria should be held responsible for the 2014 beheading death of a journalist because they helped create and support the terrorists who did it, according to a lawsuit seeking $89 million from the Middle Eastern nation.
     The federal lawsuit, filed April 18, attributes the September 2014 killing of U.S-Israeli reporter Steve Sotloff to the Syrian government’s financial and military support of the Islamic State in Syria (also known by its Arabic acronym Daesh).
     “The abduction and brutal murder of journalists such as Steven Sotloff benefitted the Assad regime in that these heinous acts shifted the focus of Western powers from removing the Assad regime,” the lawsuit states.
     In August 2013, Sotloff — who was reporting from Libya and later Syria for Time and other magazines — was kidnapped by ISIS terrorists. During his time in captivity, Sotloff was kept in a small cell with 19 other prisoners. He was dragged from his cell several times and subjected to mock executions with a knife to his throat.
     Sotloff was seen in the video during the August 2014 beheading death of fellow journalist James Foley, during which the Islamic State killer informed President Obama that Sotloff’s life “depends on your next decision.”
     On Sept. 2, 2014, Sotloff was beheaded, and a video recording of his murder was released.
     The Islamic State group formed in 2006 amid the wreckage of al-Qaida in Iraq, but within a few years it began operations in Syria. One of the stated goals of the IS is to return much of the Middle East to Muslim caliphate rule.
     The lawsuit, which was filed by Sotloff’s parents and sister, claims that Sotloff’s murder can be laid at the feet of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who allegedly has propped up the Islamic State to make its tyrannical government look like the lesser of two evils in the country’s civil war.
     Syria and Assad “helped create and thereafter greatly assisted Daesh, which was nothing more than its sham opponent in the Syrian civil war, to bolster Syria’s negotiating power vis-à-vis the Western powers that had been seeking the end of the Assad regime,” the lawsuit states, noting that Syria has continued to be one of the Islamic State’s greatest oil trading partners.
     The lawsuit also quotes former members of Syrian military intelligence and government, who have alleged that Syrian officers embedded with the Islamic State in 2011 and created armed brigades.
     Among those quoted in the lawsuit are former Syrian Air Force Intelligence Chief As Affaq Amad, who said those brigades “were very useful for the regime because they provided a justification for the regime’s insistence on a military solution.”
     The lawsuit seeks $89 million in punitive and compensatory damages for wrongful death, conspiracy, assault, and other charges.
     Homeland Security spokeswoman Gillian Christensen declined to comment on the lawsuit.
     Syria has been sued before for its alleged role in backing terror. In February a federal judge held the Syrian government liable for the deaths of a nine-year-old girl and a bank chairman who were killed in a 2005 suicide bombing in Jordan. The families of both victims claimed Syria financed and supported the terrorists responsible. They were awarded $150 million in damages.
     Just this week, Saudi Arabia threatened to sell off $750 billion in U.S. assets if federal legislation allowing people to hold the country liable in 9/11-related lawsuits. President Obama has come out against the bill, according to press reports.

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