Steven Sotloff Video Was Released by Intelligence Group linked to Homeland Security and Washington Think Tanks

Western news media are abuzz with reports on the latest alleged murder of an American journalist by the “Islamic State.” A professionally-produced video of the beheading of Steve Sotloff was presented for public consumption by the private intelligence contractor SITE Intelligence Group of Bethesda Maryland. “SITE” stands for Search for International Terrorist Entities.[1]

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Barfi_CNNUS intelligence officials cannot presently authenticate the video, and in the past SITE has been accused of being overzealous in its pursuit of purported terrorist groups with unusually savvy internet skills and access. As former director of the CIA’s bin Laden Unit Michael Scheuer remarks, “Much as Al Jazeera underplays terrorist threats, the SITE Institute at times overplays them.”[2]

SITE has also been linked to the Department of Homeland Security, major US government players, and may have ties to the Israeli intelligence community. As Kurt Nimmo reports,

One of SITE’s founders, Rita Katz, is a government insider with close connections to former terrorism czar Richard Clarke and his staff in the White House, as well as investigators in the Department of Justice, Department of the Treasury, and the Department of Homeland Security, according to SourceWatch. Her father was executed in Iraq as an Israel spy, a fact that suggests a connection to Israeli intelligence.[3]

Another facet of the story calling into question its authenticity is the Sotloff family’s choice for a spokesperson. “The family knows of this horrific tragedy and is grieving privately,” one Barak Barfi told the Miami Herald. “There will be no public comment from the family during this difficult time.”[4]

Barak Barfi is in fact a “research fellow” at the New America Foundation, “where he specializes in Arab and Islamic affairs,” according to New America’s website.[5] Barfi was formerly a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution. In 2011 Mr. Barfi strongly advocated the overthrow of the Muammar Qaddafi government in Libya,[6] and has advanced similar arguments against Syria’s Bashar al-Assad regime.[7]

Barfi_CSPAN“Barak Barfi is indeed the spokesperson for the Sotloff family,” New America Foundation media relations representative Jenny Lu Mallamo confirmed to this author in an email response to a September 3 query.[8]

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While touting itself as “non-profit” and “non-partisan,” the New America Foundation is in fact a well-heeled think tank and advocacy organization backed by powerful globalist figures and entities including Bill Gates, Google CEO Eric Schmidt, the Ford Foundation, the US Department of State, and the US Agency for International Development.[9]

Barfi works within NAF’s Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative headed up by CNN National Security Analyst Peter Bergen. The author of Manhunt: The Ten-Year Search for Bin Laden—From 9/11 to Abbottabad, Bergen promotes the official myth and state propaganda line concerning bin Laden’s apparent decade-long existence following his reported death in 2001.[10]

Along these lines, Bergen plays along with the corporate media’s widely held notion that ISIS is a spontaneous phenomenon that receives little-if-any Western support.[11]

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Barfi’s role as “spokesperson” of the Sotloff family vis-à-vis his links to New America, Brookings, Atlantic Media, and CNN are left entirely unexamined by the same corporate media outlets vigorously promoting the supposed Foley and Sotloff beheadings as genuine. Such propaganda efforts are paving the road toward renewed Western intervention in the region, and perhaps even the supreme casus belli—another staged attack on US soil on or around the thirteenth anniversary of 9/11.


[1] Glenn Garvin, “Video Shows Beheading of Pinecrest Journalist Steven Sotloff,Miami Herald, September 2, 2014.

[2] Benjamin Wallis-Wells, “Private Jihad: How Rita Katz Got Into the Private Spying Business,” New Yorker, May 29, 2006.

[3] Kurt Nimmo, “Sotloff Video Found By Group Responsible for Releasing Fake Osama Bin Laden Video,” Infowars, September 3, 2014.

[4] Garvin, “Video Shows Beheading.”

[5] “Barak Barfi,” New America Foundation, accessed September 3, 2014.

[6] Barak Barfi, “The Overlooked Strategy That Could Finally Bring Down Gaddafi,” New Republic, May 27, 2011.

[7] Barak Barfi and Aaron Y. Zelin, “Al Qaeda’s Syrian Strategy: Can Islamic Jihadists Win Hearts and Minds in the War Against Assad?Foreign Policy, October 10, 2013; Marc Perelman interviews Barak Barfi, Research Fellow at the New America Foundation, France 24, December 6, 2013 .

[8] James F. Tracy to Jenny Lu Mallamo, email communication, September 3, 2014.

[9] “Our Funding,” New America Foundation, , accessed September 3, 2014.

[10] Anthony Sampson, “CIA Agent Alleged to Have Met Bin Laden in July,” UK Guardian, October 31, 2001.

[11] For example, see Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider, “Now ISIS Has Drones?”, August 24, 2014.

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About the author:

James F. Tracy was a tenured Associate Professor of Journalism and Media Studies at Florida Atlantic University from 2002 to 2016. He was fired by FAU ostensibly for violating the university's policies imposed on the free speech rights of faculty. Tracy has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the university, with trial set to begin November 27, 2017. Tracy received his PhD from University of Iowa. His work on media history, politics and culture has appeared in a wide variety of academic journals, edited volumes, and alternative news and opinion outlets. Additional information is available at,, and

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