The family of slain journalist Steven Sotloff is suing the Assad regime in a US court. The central premise of the suit is that the Assad regime provided support to the ISIS militants who carried out the beheading of Sotloff.
The lawsuit filed on Monday in a federal court in Washington seeks $90m in compensatory damages plus up to three times that in punitive damages from Syria for Sotloff’s 2014 killing.
The Sotloffs alleged that the Assad regime’s “security apparatus helped create and thereafter greatly assisted Daesh [the Arabic name for ISIS], which was nothing more than its sham opponent in the Syrian civil war, to bolster Syria’s negotiating power vis-a-vis the Western powers that had been seeking the end of the Assad regime. Assad’s plan was to cooperate with Daesh to destroy the moderate opposition leaving Daesh as his only opponent in the Syrian civil war.”
“At all times relevant to this complaint,” the lawsuit continued, “Syria provided material support to Daesh, such as financial support, provision of materiel, and military air support.”
Sotloff was kidnapped in August 2013 after crossing into Syria from Turkey, according to the lawsuit. He was killed on 2 September 2014, and a video was distributed around the world documenting his death. Another American journalist, James Foley, had been killed a month earlier by ISIS.
The Sotloff lawsuit contends that the Assad regime – designated a state sponsor of terrorism by the US – is liable because it provided financial, material and military support to Isis.
“Syria’s material support for [Isis] caused the abduction and murder of Steven Sotloff,” the lawsuit says.
Sotloff, 31, was a Miami native who reported from a number of Middle Eastern countries for publications such as Time, the Christian Science Monitor and Foreign Policy magazine.
AFP on Thursday said that US and British officials confirmed there was financial cooperation between Assad and ISIS and that the Assad regime buys stolen oil from the extremist group.
Early this year, the Foreign Policy magazine, citing US intelligence sources, said that a Russian oil and gas company close to Russian President Vladimir Putin has developed a project to extract gas from a the gas fields in Tweinan near Raqqa, ISIS’s de facto capital. (Source: Al-Sharq al-Awsat)