The mother of an American journalist held captive by Islamic State (Isis) fighters has pleaded for the safe release of her son in a video message addressed directly to the militant group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Freelance journalist Steven Sotloff, 31, was abducted in Syria in August 2013. He appeared in a video released last week by Isis purporting to show the execution of American freelance journalist James Foley. In the footage an Isis fighter warns Mr Sotloff will be executed next if US airstrikes on Iraq continue.

Now in a video broadcast on al-Arabiya, a pan-Arab TV network, his mother Shirley Sotloff has pleaded with Isis leader al-Baghdadi to "spare his life". "Steven is a journalist who travelled to the Middle East to cover the suffering of Muslims at the hands of tyrants," she says, looking directly to camera. "He is an honourable man and has always tried to help the weak."

She adds that her son has no control on US policy, saying she has learned that "Islam teaches that no individual should be held responsible for the sins of others".

"I've always learned that you, the caliph, can grant amnesty. I ask you to please release my child. As a mother, I ask your justice to be merciful and not punish my son for matters he has no control over", she says.

"I want what every mother wants: to live to see her children's children. I plead with you to grant me this."

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