When freelance reporter James Foley was captured by ISIS as he covered the civil war in Syria, his journey through captivity was an emotional, and at times, heart-wrenching one.
At one point during his captivity, Foley was ecstatic when he was taken from his cell, which he shared with around 25 other western hostages, into a private room by his captors and asked intimately personal questions, including “Who cried at your brother’s wedding?” and “Who was the captain of your high school soccer team?” James knew that ISIS were in touch with his family.
According to a new report in the New York Times, James Foley’s time spent in captivity was no picnic by any stretch of the imagination, while being held by militants from the “religion of peace.” Foley and his counterparts were reportedly beaten often, waterboarded, starved for long periods of time, and generally treated appallingly.
While many of the prisoners banded together, playing games to pass the time, bizarrely, some of them, including James Foley, sought comfort in the faith of their captors and embraced Islam as well as Muslim names.
That fact alone should have surely meant that it was forbidden for ISIS militants to execute their fellow Muslims, but even that didn’t stop them from treating their captives like something out of the dark ages.
The captives’ struggle for survival has been pieced together for the first time in the new report, through interviews with five former hostages, locals who witnessed their treatment, relatives, and colleagues of the captives.
According to Polish journalist, Marcin Suder, who was kidnapped in Syria in July 2013 but later released by ISIS, the initial interrogations when westerners were caught were horrific, he told reporters.
“They took me to a building that was specifically for the interrogation, They checked my camera. They checked my tablet. Then they undressed me completely. I was naked. They looked to see if there was a GPS chip under my skin or in my clothes. Then they started beating me. They Googled ‘Marcin Suder and C.I.A.,’ ‘Marcin Suder and K.G.B.’ They accused me of being a spy.”
Ninteen-year-old Jejoen Bontinck, a Muslim convert from Belgium, who spent three weeks in the same cell as James Foley, said about the reporter’s condition, “You could see the scars on his ankles. He told me how they had chained his feet to a bar and then hung the bar so that he was upside down from the ceiling. Then they left him there.”
Bontinck spoke about how he practiced Islam along with James Foley while in captivity, “I recited the Quran with him. Most people would say, ‘Let’s convert so that we can get better treatment.’ But in his case, I think it was sincere.”