Istanbul, Turkey (CNN) - American journalist Steven Sotloff began his last journey into Syria with a surprise gift for his fixer, Yosef Abobaker. It was a small camera.
"Happy birthday!" Sotloff told his guide, whom Sotloff had befriended a year earlier by interviewing Abobaker's father about the Syrian civil war.
Then came the real surprise for the two men: about 15 masked ISIS gunmen jumped out of three cars and took them captive, beginning a dark tale that eventually led to Abobaker's release, but ended in Sotloff's beheading.
In an interview with CNN this week, Abobaker provided a detailed account of how he, Sotloff and three armed guards were abducted in Syria by ISIS fighters in August 2013, but since then, never once did U.S. officials try to interview Abobaker about his first-hand experience with ISIS and its captivity of Sotloff.