Remember Those 'Moderate' Syrian Rebels? They Sold Sotloff to ISIL


John McCain
U.S. Air Force / Wikimedia Commons

A spokesperson for the family of Steven Sotloff—the journalist gruesomely murdered by ISIL last week—accused "so-called moderate Syrian rebels" of helping the Islamic terrorist group to capture Sotloff in exchange for a cash payment.

Speaking for the Sotloffs, Barak Barfi—a friend of Sotloff and research fellow at the New America Foundation—told CNN's Anderson Cooper that "sources on the ground" had confirmed that moderate rebel groups were complicit in the crime.

According to Barfi, who spoke with Sotloff on the phone moments before his capture:

"For the first time we can say Steven was sold at the border, Steven's name was on a list that he had been responsible for the bombing of a hospital. This was false, activists spread his name around. … We believe that the so-called moderate rebels that people want our administration to support, one of them sold him probably for something between $25,000 and $50,000 to ISIS. And that was the reason that he was captured.

… We know this from our sources on the ground. It happened so quickly when he was kidnapped, they didn't have the time to mobilize those resources. Somebody at the border crossing made a phone call to ISIS and they setup a fake checkpoint with many people…

If Barfi's information is accurate, that's quite an indictment. Keep in mind that Republican hawks like Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham had wanted to aid the Syrian rebels against Bashar al-Assad's regime just two short years ago. President Obama was also ready to intervene on behalf of the rebels at that time. While ISIL is indeed a different beast, the shifting and uncertain status of these various factions should make U.S. leaders hesitant to involve American forces. There are no good guys, and it's difficult to tell the bad guys from the even worse guys.

Barfi was also critical of how the Obama administration has dealt with the Sotloff family. The White House has made "a number of inaccurate statements" about Sotloff, he said.

What should libertarians think about ISIL? Reason explores the subject here.

Hat tip: The Daily Caller