A spokesman for the family of the second beheaded American journalist, Steven Sotloff, said they wanted to rescue him from the grips of the Islamic State, but officials working for President Obama “bullied” them into softening their approach.
“We had meetings with the administration,” Sotloff family spokesman Barak Barfi told “CBS This Morning.” “The family sat with the National Security Council officials. And basically, he bullied and hectored them and they were scared.”
Mr. Sotloff was killed on video by an Islamic State terrorist a month ago, a short time after U.S. journalist James Foley was beheaded by the same group.
Mr. Sotloff’s family, meanwhile, has spoken critically about the White House in recent weeks, saying officials have done little to secure the freedom of Islamic State captives.
This is the second time the Obama administration has been accused of intimidating family members of slain Islamic State captives. Just a few days ago, family members of Mr. Foley accused federal authorities of threatening them with prosecution if they paid the demanded ransom.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough denied any threats to the Foley family, saying on Fox News that “we didn’t threaten anybody, but we made clear what the law is,” he said.
But Mr. Barfi said the White House actually went above and beyond informing about law.
“I’m hearing that Denis McDonough is saying they weren’t threatened — he wasn’t in the meeting,” Mr. Barfi said, The Hill reported. “John Kerry wasn’t in the meetings. The family was in the meetings and then I was in a subsequent meeting, and I know what I heard.”
Mr. Barfi also said that the Sotloff family “never really believed that the administration was doing anything to help us. We had very, very limited contact with senior officials,” he said, The Hill reported.