Ex-hostage: ISIS victim Foley gave up escape for friend

2015-03-17 05:00

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Madrid - The US journalist killed by the ISIS militant group, James Foley, might have escaped but gave up the attempt so as not to abandon his friend, a former fellow hostage said on Monday.

In a serialised account of his own captivity at the hands of the Islamist group in 2013-2014, Spanish reporter Javier Espinosa revealed that Foley made two escape attempts with another hostage, British photographer John Cantlie.

ISIS militants decapitated James Foley in August 2014, five months after Espinosa and another Spaniard, photographer Ricardo Garcia Vilanova, were freed.

The two Spaniards were held along with 21 others including Foley and Cantlie in an industrial complex north of Aleppo.

"Foley and Cantlie tried to escape twice. The first time was a resounding failure before it even started," Espinosa wrote in El Mundo newspaper.

"The second time, the US journalist demonstrated his enormous human depth," Espinosa wrote.

"After managing to escape from the room where we were held prisoner, clutching onto a blanket, he had to wait for Cantlie," who had been caught by a guard.

"Foley could have tried to flee on his own but he prepared to turn himself in. 'I could not leave John on his own,' he said."

In the first of his series of articles published on Sunday in El Mundo, Espinosa said ISIS extremists staged mock executions of Western captives.

They intended the jail to be the jihadist answer to the US prison camp in Guantanamo Bay.

'Hotel California'

Espinosa said other hostages were tortured and submitted to repeated mock executions by a trio of guards that prisoners nicknamed "The Beatles".

Cantlie and Foley were particularly brutally tortured for trying to escape, Espinosa said.

Espinosa and Garcia were captured in Syria in September 2013 and taken to join Foley and the others at the Aleppo complex later that year.

Among those held there was another US hostage, Peter Kassig. ISIS announced it had killed him in November 2014.

Espinosa says he waited nearly a year after being freed to reveal details of his detention because ISIS captors had warned they would execute remaining hostages if he spoke about his ordeal "before everything has been finished".

Espinosa wrote that time has now come, with 15 of his group of prisoners having been released, six executed, and American humanitarian worker Kayla Mueller killed in a bombing of ISIS positions last month.

Cantlie's fate is unknown after a recently released ISIS video showed him still alive.

The Spanish reporter described his captors as "psychopaths".

Another Spanish journalist held in the same place, Marc Marginedas, who was also released last year, wrote in El Periodico newspaper that prisoners were forced to sing a twisted version of The Eagles' famous song "Hotel California".

"You can never leave, and if you try, you'll die."

Read more on:    isis  |  james foley  |  syria  |  iraq

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