'Jihadi John made me tango dance with him and then beat me': Freed Isis hostage describes torture

Daniel Rye Ottosen, a Danish freelance photographer, was freed in June last year after his family paid a ransom 

Lizzie Dearden
Saturday 17 October 2015 14:48
Hostages have described Jihadi John as one of the worst Isis torturers
Hostages have described Jihadi John as one of the worst Isis torturers

A former Isis hostage held with Alan Henning and James Foley has described how their murderer, “Jihadi John”, forced him to dance the tango as part of a regime of torture and humiliation.

Daniel Rye Ottosen, a 26-year-old freelance photographer from Denmark, was freed in June last year after his family paid the extremist group a large ransom for his life.

He was the last Western hostage to be released before Isis started beheading his fellow captives, starting with Mr Foley before killing Steven Sotloff, David Haines, Mr Henning and Adbul-Rahman (Peter) Kassig.

I 398 dage var den danske fotograf Daniel Rye fange hos terrorregimet Islamisk Stat (IS) i Syrien. En af hans fangevogtere var den berygtede britiske IS-bøddel, der bliver kaldt Jihadi John. For første gang siden sin løsladelse har Daniel Rye fortalt om sine oplevelser som IS-fange til DR Nyheders Mellemøst-korrespondent Puk Damsgård – blandt andet om dengang, han blev tvunget til at danse tango med Jihadi John. Få hele Daniel Ryes historie i 21 Søndag på DR1 i aften.

Posted by DR Nyheder on Sunday, 11 October 2015

They were all decapitated by the British militant named by authorities as Mohammed Emwazi, known as “Jihadi John” for his part in the UK terror cell dubbed “The Beatles”.

Giving his first public interview to Danish national broadcaster DR on Sunday, Mr Ottosen described the brutal and sometimes bizarre torture inflicted upon him.

“Do you want to dance?” he remembers Emwazi asking. “He pulled me up, and then we had to dance the tango together.

“At that point I just kept looking at the ground, I did not want to look at them because then you would get even more beatings.

“He led me around the prison, and all of a sudden it changed and he pushed down and they kicked and beat me.

“They ended by giving me a ride when then threatened to cut my nose off with wire cutters.”

Mr Ottosen was freed weeks before his friend James Foley was murdered in the first of a string of beheadings

Mr Ottosen was held with a changing group of hostages including 19 men and five women from 13 different countries, DR reported.

He and the other captives were forbidden from communicating with the outside world during their captivity but he memorised the last message left by Mr Foley and passed it on to the journalist’s family.

The photographer was held by Isis for almost 400 days from May 2013 until the end of June last year, after being captured less than a week after arriving in Syria to document the plight of refugees fleeing the country’s civil war.

Mr Ottosen told DR he attempted to take his own life to escape the torture, which included chaining him to the ceiling, and was the worst at the hands of Emwazi and his friends.

He was released after his family paid Isis the rumoured sum of 20 million kroner (£1.9 million), which was largely raised by a Facebook fundraising campaign started by his sister, Anita.

The decision to pay the ransom to the terrorist group was controversial but the family said they had no regrets after the murder of Mr Ottosen’s fellow hostages, whose families refused to acquiesce to Isis’ demands on the instruction of the American and British governments.

Do you see the moon, Daniel (Ser du månen, Daniel), an account of Mr Ottosen’s ordeal written by the journalist Puk Damsgård, was released in Denmark on Tuesday.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments