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Father of Miami-Dade journalist beheaded by ISIS militants talks about seeing torturer in court

PINECREST, Fla. – Seven years to the day that Art Sotloff’s son Steven Joel was beheaded by ISIS militants in Syria, he came face to face with Alexanda Amon Kotey, who admitted to torturing his son.

“Seven years to the day. What are the odds of that? I think God had something to do with it. I don’t know what to say,” the grieving father said on Friday.

Art Sotloff said he was just 10 feet away from Kotey on Thursday while in a federal courtroom in Alexandria, Virginia. On Friday, he said it was very surreal.

“I had to contain myself. I was with all the other families. I wasn’t the only one there,” said Art Sotloff, of Pinecrest.

Alexanda Amon Kotey, 37, plead guilty to eight charges related to his involvement in the kidnapping and murders of Steven Sotloff, a journalist from Miami-Dade, his colleague James Foley, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller, who were both aid workers. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla, File, Courtesy photos)

Kotey, a British ISIS militant, pleaded guilty to all eight counts against him and will serve life in prison. Art Sotloff said he felt his son, a journalist who was born in Miami-Dade County, looking down.

“I felt him there in the courtroom with me and I could see him smiling because finally there was a little bit of justice,” he said.

Kotey, 37, of London, described the way he tortured hostages, including punching, electric shocks, and waterboarding.

“This guy had no emotion. None whatsoever cool calm and collected like he was talking about baseball,” Art Sotloff said.

Kotey was captured by Syrian Democratic Forces as he attempted to escape Syria for Turkey in January 2018, and he was in U.S. custody on Oct. 7, 2020.

Federal prosecutors said Kotey admitted to his participation in the hostage-taking scheme that resulted in the deaths of four American hostages: Sotloff, his colleague James Foley, Peter Kassig, and Kayla Mueller, who were both aid workers.

The Sotloff family founded the 2Lives Foundation to provide scholarships to students seeking careers in journalism as a tribute to Steven Sotloff’s commitment.

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About the Authors:

Reporter Rosh Lowe is covering the Surfside building collapse and other news for Local 10 News.

The Emmy Award-winning journalist joined the Local 10 News team in 2013. She wrote for the Miami Herald for more than 9 years and won a Green Eyeshade Award.