A man who was subjected to mock executions by the British militant known as “Jihadi John” has described the campaign of “psychological and physical torture” to which Isis subjects its hostages.
The Spanish journalist Javier Espinosa spent more than six months in Isis captivity before his release in March last year, and said he had a number of interactions with the militant who has been unmasked as 26-year-old Londoner Mohammed Emwazi.
David Cameron has been forced to defend the actions of MI5 after it was suggested that spies’ attempts to recruit Emwazi could have pushed him into the arms of extremists.
Describing his contact with the young man who is now a leading public figure for the group in Syria, Espinosa said a group of British jihadists dubbed “The Beatles” had taken pleasure in daily threats and pretend executions.
He wrote in the Sunday Times: “The Beatles - that was our nickname for the three British militants guarding us - loved this sort of theatre. They had me sat on the floor, barefoot, with a shaven head, a thick beard and dressed in the 'orange' uniform' that had made Guantanamo, the American prison, famous.
“Jihadi John wanted maximum drama. He had brought along an antique sword of the kind Muslim armies used in the Middle Ages. It was a blade of almost a metre in length with a silver handle.
“After finishing with the sword he holstered his pistol, a Glock. He placed it against my head and pulled the trigger three times. Click. Click. Click. It's called a mock execution. But not even this terrifying intimidation seemed to satisfy them.”
The correspondent for Spanish newspaper El Mundo said the episode was one of several in the campaign of “psychological and physical torture, privations and humiliations that became the daily reality for 23 hostages - Europeans, Americans and Latin Americans - held in Syria by Isis”.
Mr Espinosa was released in March last year after more than six months in IS hands.
Kuwait-born Emwazi had been pinpointed as a potential extremist by the British authorities but was nonetheless able to travel to Syria in 2013 and join the group responsible for the murder of several Western hostages.
In email exchanges with a journalist, the University of Westminster computer programming graduate said he considered suicide after coming face to face with what he suspected to be a British spy as he attempted to sell a laptop computer in 2010.
Additional reporting by PA
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