Spanish Isis hostage reveals James Foley and John Cantlie were forced to sing Hotel California as 'Hotel Osama' to entertain captors

Javier Espinosa says sadistic captors used hostages as ‘toys’

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The Independent Online

A former Spanish Isis hostage has revealed more of the sadistic practices fighters inflicted on their captives as a form of entertainment.

Journalist Javier Espinosa was held captive by the extremist group in its stronghold of Raqqa in northern Syria along with other several other Western hostages.

Mr Espinosa, a correspondent for El Mundo, was held for much of this time by a trio of British Islamist guards who were nicknamed ‘The Beatles’ by their captives and included the infamous militant 'Jihadi John'.

Writing in The Times, Mr Espinosa described being used as a “toy” by their captors to keep them entertained after they were moved to a prison next to the Euphrates river.

Spanish journalist Javier Espinosa being reunited with his son after being held hostage in Syria for six months

“Any hope of peace ended when the Beatles decided to install themselves in the adjoining room. From then on, the prisoners became their own 'toys'," he wrote. "Often when the sun set, they started hitting the 'chosen one' or they showed them off in front of their friends as if we were animals in a zoo.

“On a couple of occasions, they and their acolytes amused themselves by shooting pellet guns at us. Fortunately, they were not good shots. They were like naughty boys without any feelings, and without any military experience.”

He recalled US photo journalist James Foley being at the receiving end of the most severe and cruel treatment, but said he never once complained. Mr Espinosa recalls Mr Foley, who was the first known Western hostage to be beheaded in videos featuring Jihadi John, apologising after fainting following a particularly severe beating.

Jihadi John was the name given to an Isis militant with a British accent seen on video beheading journalist James Foley

He said Mr Foley and the British journalist John Cantlie were forced to compose a version of The Eagles’ song Hotel California they called ‘Hotel Osama’, in reference to Osama bin Laden.

Some of the adapted lyrics included: “Welcome to lovely Hotel Osama, such a lovely place, such a lovely place. […]Plenty of room at lovely Hotel Osama, any time of year, you can find it here. Welcome to the lovely Hotel Osama.”

He said George, the most barbarous of the three militants, warned told the group: “Anyone who does not know the words, I will kick to death.”

Mr Espinosa claims Mr Cantlie and Mr Foley made two failed attempts at escaping, earning them weeks of punishments that included attempted drownings and repeated beatings.

"They were caught trying to get off their handcuffs with a skeleton key they made," he said.

"On the second occasion, the American showed his true humanity. After getting out of the room where the prisoners were, he had to wait for Cantlie who was to escape second.

"The guard saw that Cantlie (had freed himself) and Foley could have tried to escape on his own, but gave himself up. 'I couldn't leave John on his own,' Foley said."