They call themselves the Islamic State. They claim to be the restorers of the caliphate, the ones who have finally fulfilled the most cherished aspiration of jihadists and Islamic supremacists the world over. They declare their intention to govern their domains solely and wholly by Islamic law, acting swiftly and ruthlessly to end any practice that does not conform to that law. They repeatedly proclaim their piety, ascribing all their victories to Allah and submitting themselves in all things to his will.
Yet despite all this, Western leaders, the mainstream media, and much of the public are certain of one thing: the Islamic State has nothing, nothing whatsoever, to do with Islam. So many people tell us so:
5. Shirley Sotloff
Shirley Sotloff  is the mother of Steven J. Sotloff, an American who is being held hostage by the Islamic State. On Wednesday, she released a video appeal to the Islamic State’s “caliph Ibrahim,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Her message to him was extremely respectful. Sotloff began: “I am sending this message to you, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Quraishi al-Hussaini, the caliph of the Islamic State. I am Shirley Sotloff. My son Steven is in your hands.”
Sotloff went on to tell the caliph that Steven had “no control over the actions of the U.S. government. He is an innocent journalist.” In fact, she said he had gone to the Middle East to chronicle the sufferings of Muslims. This was tantamount to signaling to him that Steven Sotloff could be more useful to him alive than dead. She assumes throughout that the U.S. has indeed done wrong to the Islamic State, but argues that her son should not be punished for it.
“Since Steven’s capture,” she added, “I have learned a lot about Islam. I’ve learned that Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others. As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over.”
It’s odd that Shirley Sotloff, after addressing the caliph so respectfully, would presume to lecture him about Islam, and it’s frankly embarrassing that she does so based on her whitewashed Karen Armstrong/John Esposito understanding of the religion. Only from such peddlers of the Islam-is-a-Religion-of-Peace myth could she have gotten the idea that the caliph’s heart would be melted by an appeal to Islam from a Western non-Muslim woman with head uncovered.