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Sotloff family remembers gentle, compassionate soul

The family of murdered US journalist Steven Sotloff paid moving tribute to the reporter on Wednesday (Sep 3), remembering a gentle soul with a fondness for junk food and golf who was fiercely committed to giving "a voice to those who had none."

MIAMI: The family of murdered US journalist Steven Sotloff paid moving tribute to the reporter on Wednesday (Sep 3), remembering a gentle soul with a fondness for junk food and golf who was fiercely committed to giving "a voice to those who had none."

The 31-year-old had been drawn to reporting from the world's conflict zones because he was unable to "turn his back on the suffering pervading the world," a family spokesman said, after Sotloff's father briefly appeared holding a photo of his son, declining to speak to media. Sotloff's horrific killing by the Islamic State was shown in a video which emerged on Tuesday, just weeks after fellow journalist James Foley was murdered by the group in near-identical circumstances.

Sotloff family spokesman Barak Barfi said in a statement the reporter had been attracted to Syria through a fascination with the Arab world. "He was no war junkie, he did not want to be a modern-day Lawrence of Arabia: he merely wanted to give voice to those who had none," Barfi said. "From the Libyan doctor who struggled with psychological services to children ravaged by war to the Syrian plumber who risked his life by crossing regime lines to purchase medicine, their story was Steve's story.

"He ultimately sacrificed his life to bring their story to the world," added Barfi, insisting that Sotloff was "no hero." "Like all of us, he was a mere man who tried to find good concealed in a world of darkness and if it did not exist he tried to create it."

Sotloff, well-versed in the history and culture of the Middle East, was taken captive in Syria last year. The self-styled "stand-up philosopher from Miami," who wrote for Time, the Christian Science Monitor, Foreign Policy and World Affairs Journal, had always found time for family despite his workload.

"He had a fondness for junk food he could not overcome and despite his busy schedule, he always found time to Skype his father to talk about his latest golf game," Barfi said. "He was appreciated by all who met his sincerity and kindness. Steve had a gentle soul that this world will be without, but his spirit will endure in our hearts. This week, we mourn, but we will emerge from this ordeal. Our village is strong. We will not allow our enemies to hold us hostage with the sole weapons they possess: fear."